Aastrup Church dates from c. 1200. Built in the Late Romanesque style, it has frescos from the 13th and 15th centuries. The church was dedicated to St Anne although this was probably not its original patron as Anne was not generally known in Denmark until the late Middle Ages. The Crown, which enjoyed clerical appointment rights since before the Reformation, sold the church in 1767 to the parish priest, C. H. Biering. In 1810, Peter Hersleb Classen, director of Det Classenske Fideikommis, transferred the church's ownership to the local landowners and in 1919 it became autonomous.
The brick chancel and the nave both have round arch friezes below the cornice. The south door, partly bricked up, is still in use but the north door, whose remnants were uncovered in 1984, is completely closed. The nave was extended at the end of the 15th century when cross-vaulting replaced the flat ceiling. The remains of the priest's door can be seen on the south wall of the chancel. The east gable contains a rounded Romanesque window while traces of the other Romanesque windows can be seen in the masonry. The tower with stepped gables, built in the Gothic period, fills the full width of the nave. The porch dates from the same period.
On the nave's eastern gable there is a relief of two heads and on the chancel's east gable, there is a head above the window. These have given rise to a legend about three virgins who had been to church in Horbelev and were murdered when returning home: one in Horbelev, one in Aastrup and the third in Grønsund. The three murderers were the women's brothers who were taken by robbers when they were small children. According to the legend, the three heads in Aastrup are those of the virgins while those on the tower at Horbelev are those of the robbers.
The Neoclassical altarpiece from 1838 has a painting of Christ at Emmaus by Fritz Westphal. The pulpit carved in the auricular style by Jørgen Ringnis (1645) is similar to those inToreby and Væggerløse. The 55 cm high crucifix from around 1400 used to hang above the chancel arch but is now above the door to the porch. It depicts a thin figure whose thorn-covered head falls to his right shoulder. The arms are long and thin and the hands unnaturally small and stumpy. The church's limestone font is Late Gothic.
The frescos in the chancel and the nave from the late 15th century are probably the work of the Elmelunde Master and his workshop although they also appear to have been influenced by the nearby Brarup workshop. Rediscovered under the whitewash in 1901, they cover the Creation and the Passion. There are scenes depicting Christ bearing his cross, the suicide of Judas and the rich man and the poor man. In 1943, even older frescos (c. 1275) depicting a Majestas Domini were discovered on the wall above the chancel arch.References:
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a world famous spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular site of pilgrimage and tourism. It is the most important working Russian monastery and a residence of the Patriarch. This religious and military complex represents an epitome of the growth of Russian architecture and contains some of that architecture’s finest expressions. It exerted a profound influence on architecture in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe.
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, was founded in 1337 by the monk Sergius of Radonezh. Sergius achieved great prestige as the spiritual adviser of Dmitri Donskoi, Great Prince of Moscow, who received his blessing to the battle of Kulikov of 1380. The monastery started as a little wooden church on Makovets Hill, and then developed and grew stronger through the ages.
Over the centuries a unique ensemble of more than 50 buildings and constructions of different dates were established. The whole complex was erected according to the architectural concept of the main church, the Trinity Cathedral (1422), where the relics of St. Sergius may be seen.
In 1476 Pskovian masters built a brick belfry east of the cathedral dedicated to the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. The church combines unique features of early Muscovite and Pskovian architecture. A remarkable feature of this church is a bell tower under its dome without internal interconnection between the belfry and the cathedral itself.
The Cathedral of the Assumption, echoing the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Moscow Kremlin, was erected between 1559 and 1585. The frescoes of the Assumption Cathedral were painted in 1684. At the north-western corner of the Cathedral, on the site of the western porch, in 1780 a vault containing burials of Tsar Boris Godunov and his family was built.
In the 16th century the monastery was surrounded by 6 meters high and 3,5 meters thick defensive walls, which proved their worth during the 16-month siege by Polish-Lithuanian invaders during the Time of Trouble. They were later strengthened and expanded.
After the Upheaval of the 17th century a large-scale building programme was launched. At this time new buildings were erected in the north-western part of the monastery, including infirmaries topped with a tented church dedicated to Saints Zosima and Sawatiy of Solovki (1635-1637). Few such churches are still preserved, so this tented church with a unique tiled roof is an important contribution to the Lavra.
In the late 17th century a number of new buildings in Naryshkin (Moscow) Baroque style were added to the monastery.
Following a devastating fire in 1746, when most of the wooden buildings and structures were destroyed, a major reconstruction campaign was launched, during which the appearance of many of the buildings was changed to a more monumental style. At this time one of the tallest Russian belfries (88 meters high) was built.
In the late 18th century, when many church lands were secularized, the chaotic planning of the settlements and suburbs around the monastery was replaced by a regular layout of the streets and quarters. The town of Sergiev Posad was surrounded by traditional ramparts and walls. In the vicinity of the monastery a number of buildings belonging to it were erected: a stable yard, hotels, a hospice, a poorhouse, as well as guest and merchant houses. Major highways leading to the monastery were straightened and marked by establishing entry squares, the overall urban development being oriented towards the centrepiece - the Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra.
In 1993, the Trinity Lavra was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.