Fanefjord Church

Askeby, Denmark

Fanefjord Church is one of the Danish island of Møn's most famous attractions. The site itself is of considerable historic interest. A few hundred meters to the south of the church there is a particularly long barrow, Grønsalen, the supposed burial ground of Queen Fane and her husband Grøn Jæger who, according to a local folklore, lived some 4,000 years ago.

The church's original 7 m high nave dates back to the second half of the 13th century. The cross vaults in the nave were added around 1300. In about 1500, the porch and tower were completed and the choir was built around 1660. In 1825, the church was bought by the Klintholm Estate which maintained ownership for almost 100 years.

It may appear surprising that such a large church was built at a time (1250) when the parish only had about 300 inhabitants. One explanation may be that there was considerable trade through the fjord with the German Hanseatic ports. The traders may well have contributed to the construction, both financially and by helping with the work.

For many generations, Fanefjord's Church frescos were hidden under a covering of plaster. After frescos had been discovered at the end of the 19th century in Møn's Elmelunde Church, those in Fanefjord were painstakingly uncovered from 1932 to 1934 under the guidance of theNational Museum. In 2009, major restoration work was completed on the frescos, revealing their original colours and impact.

The earliest frescos, on the triumphal arch, were painted around 1350. They depict the four evangelists, as well as St Christopher and St George. The most famous frescos are however those dating back to about 1500 which cover large areas of the church's ceiling and upper walls. In the so-called Biblia pauperum style, they present many of the most popular stories from the Old and New Testaments. The artist, who can be identified by the emblem he included in the decorations, is known simply as the Elmelunde Master as it was he and his team who also painted the frescos in Elmelunde Church and indeed those in Keldby Church. Indeed, it is probable that there were several artists in the Elmelunde workshop who collaborated in decorating churches in the area as other emblems and various in style have been observed.

The warm colours ranging from dark red and russet to yellow, green, grey and black are distinctive. Another typical feature is the expressionless faces of the sleepy-eyed people, turned to the left or right while their bodies face the front. All the images, including the surrounding stonework, are decorated with ornaments such as stars, plants and trees. The images themselves appear to have been inspired partly from block-prints from a Dutch or German Biblia Pauperum, a book containing some 40 pages of drawings depicting stories from the Bible. Other sources probably included the Bible itself, legends, apocryphal writings and other illustrations. Initially, the wall paintings appear to have covered the entire church including the lower parts of the walls which are now whitewashed. Traces of work in these areas have been found but the images were not sufficiently clear to warrant restoration.

The church contains a number of other interesting features. The choir, renovated in the 17th century, consists of an impressive altarpiece, the original candlesticks and a new altar. The ornate pulpit is from about 1645 and bears Christian IV's emblem. Among the carved figures are Christ, Jacob, St Peter and one of the apostles. A new organ built by Frobenius & Sønner with 10 stops, two keyboards and a pedalboard, was installed in 1998.

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Details

Founded: 13th century
Category: Religious sites in Denmark
Historical period: The First Kingdom (Denmark)

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Hans Møller Jensen (2 years ago)
Fantastiske kalkmalerier.
Geoffrey Smith (3 years ago)
Stunning interior the walls and ceiling are covered with beautiful old images. Certainly worth a visit.
R afael (3 years ago)
The kirke its cool.
Jakob Fogh Grove (4 years ago)
The very best of the three churches decorated by the Elmelunde master.
Søren K. Jacobsen Damm (5 years ago)
One of the most beautiful medieval churches in Denmark. The frescos should be nominated as Unesco World Heritage.
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