Elmelunde Church is famous for its frescos. It stands high above the surroundings and the impressive whitewashed building can be seen from miles around and has been used as a landmark by sailors in the Baltic Sea. Elmelunde is the oldest church on the island of Møn, apparently constructed on a site where a wooden church once stood. The flat mound, to the north of the church, is even older. It is believed to be a heathen burial ground from the bronze age.
The present church dates back to 1085 when parts of the present choir and nave were built in the Romanesque style. Only the triumphal arch and the sidewalls remain from this period. The earliest additions were carried out around the year 1200 when the church was extended towards the west. Work on the tower began around 1300 but was not completed until 1500. The wooden ceiling was replaced by Gothic crossvaulting in 1462.
The church's many well-preserved frescos or kalkmalerier cover the Gothic vaulting of the nave and choir. Like the murals in two of Møn's other churches, Keldby and Fanefjord, they were painted in the Gothic style by the so-called Elmelunde Master, probably towards the end of the 15th century. In the so-called Biblia pauperum style, they present many of the most popular stories from the Old and New Testaments.
The paintings were hidden for centuries as, following the reformation, they were covered with layer after layer of limewash. In 1969, the National Museum of Denmark undertook major restoration work on the wall paintings. The vaults were cleaned, earlier restoration work was corrected and new frescos were revealed. The paintings in the nave and choir were discovered in 1885 and initially restored in 1895. During the most recent restoration work, it was found that the church had earlier been decorated with Romanesque frescos, traces of which could be seen on the walls of the nave and on the triumphal arch. However, until now, it has not been possible to restore them.
The most comprehensive wallpainting work was in fact carried out by the Elmelunde Master presenting a variety of scenes from the story of theCreation and the New Testament but also with illustrations of everyday activities such as ploughing and hunting. Between the paintings, margins with frills depicting flowers, plants and other ornaments can be seen. The figures all have sleepy faces, a characteristic of the Elmelund Master. Colours include black, ochre, caput mortuum, and cinnabar which has now faded to verdigris.
The richly carved altar, 1646, was a gift from King Christian IV´s daughter, Leonora Christina, and her husband Corfitz Ulfeldt. The central frame depicts the institution of the Holy Communion. The sides present the evangelists Mark and John. The pulpit, also a present from the Ulfeldts, is borne by the apostle Peter and is from the year 1649. Large representations of the four evangelists fill the larger frames while the corner frames house their symbols.References:
The Kalozha church of Saints Boris and Gleb is the oldest extant structure in Hrodna. It is the only surviving monument of ancient Black Ruthenian architecture, distinguished from other Orthodox churches by prolific use of polychrome faceted stones of blue, green or red tint which could be arranged to form crosses or other figures on the wall.
The church is a cross-domed building supported by six circular pillars. The outside is articulated with projecting pilasters, which have rounded corners, as does the building itself. The ante-nave contains the choir loft, accessed by a narrow gradatory in the western wall. Two other stairs were discovered in the walls of the side apses; their purpose is not clear. The floor is lined with ceramic tiles forming decorative patterns. The interior was lined with innumerable built-in pitchers, which usually serve in Eastern Orthodox churches as resonators but in this case were scored to produce decorative effects. For this reason, the central nave has never been painted.
The church was built before 1183 and survived intact, depicted in the 1840s by Michał Kulesza, until 1853, when the south wall collapsed, due to its perilous location on the high bank of the Neman. During restoration works, some fragments of 12th-century frescoes were discovered in the apses. Remains of four other churches in the same style, decorated with pitchers and coloured stones instead of frescoes, were discovered in Hrodna and Vaŭkavysk. They all date back to the turn of the 13th century, as do remains of the first stone palace in the Old Hrodna Castle.
In 2004, the church was included in the Tentative List of UNESCO"s World Heritage Sites.