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.References:
The original Cochem Castle, perched prominently on a hill above the Moselle River, served to collect tolls from passing ships. Modern research dates its origins to around 1100. Before its destruction by the French in 1689, the castle had a long and fascinating history. It changed hands numerous times and, like most castles, also changed its form over the centuries.
In 1151 King Konrad III ended a dispute over who should inherit Cochem Castle by laying siege to it and taking possession of it himself. That same year it became an official Imperial Castle (Reichsburg) subject to imperial authority. In 1282 it was Habsburg King Rudolf’s turn, when he conquered the Reichsburg Cochem and took it over. But just 12 years later, in 1294, the newest owner, King Adolf of Nassau pawned the castle, the town of Cochem and the surrounding region in order to finance his coronation. Adolf’s successor, Albrecht I, was unable to redeem the pledge and was forced to grant the castle to the archbishop in nearby Trier and the Electorate of Trier, which then administered the Reichsburg continuously, except for a brief interruption when Trier’s Archbishop Balduin of Luxembourg had to pawn the castle to a countess. But he got it back a year later.
The Electorate of Trier and its nobility became wealthy and powerful in large part due to the income from Cochem Castle and the rights to shipping tolls on the Moselle. Not until 1419 did the castle and its tolls come under the administration of civil bailiffs (Amtsmänner). While under the control of the bishops and electors in Trier from the 14th to the 16th century, the castle was expanded several times.
In 1688 the French invaded the Rhine and Moselle regions of the Palatinate, which included Cochem and its castle. French troops conquered the Reichsburg and then laid waste not only to the castle but also to Cochem and most of the other surrounding towns in a scorched-earth campaign. Between that time and the Congress of Vienna, the Palatinate and Cochem went back and forth between France and Prussia. In 1815 the western Palatinate and Cochem finally became part of Prussia once and for all.
Louis Jacques Ravené (1823-1879) did not live to see the completion of his renovated castle, but it was completed by his son Louis Auguste Ravené (1866-1944). Louis Auguste was only two years old when construction work at the old ruins above Cochem began in 1868, but most of the new castle took shape from 1874 to 1877, based on designs by Berlin architects. After the death of his father in 1879, Louis Auguste supervised the final stages of construction, mostly involving work on the castle’s interior. The castle was finally completed in 1890. Louis Auguste, like his father, a lover of art, filled the castle with an extensive art collection, most of which was lost during the Second World War.
In 1942, during the Nazi years, Ravené was forced to sell the family castle to the Prussian Ministry of Justice, which turned it into a law school run by the Nazi government. Following the end of the war, the castle became the property of the new state of Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate). In 1978 the city of Cochem bought the castle for 664,000 marks.