Eskilstrup Church built in the Romanesque style dates from the 12th century. It is best known for its frescos, said to be Denmark's oldest. At the beginning of the 16th century, the church was owned by the bishopric under the administration of its seat at Sørup on Lolland. In 1694, it was annexed to Ønslev Church, 3 km to the west. After the Reformation it came under the Crown until 1767 when it was sold into private ownership. It was, however, soon reacquired by the State until 1852 when its was sold to the farmers of the parish. It gained full independence in 1933.
The church consists of a Late Romanesque apse, chancel and nave and a Gothic tower and porch, all built of brick. Pilaster strips decorate the corners of the nave and chancel. The apse and chancel have a rounded foundation base. There is a three-sided wall at the east end of the apse while there are round-arched windows in the side walls. The toothed cornice is decorated a saw-toothed trimming which runs along pilasters to the chancel gabel. The nave walls are similarly decorated with cornices and pilasters. The chancel windows resemble those of the apse but they have been extended downwards.
The apse's original vaulting develops from a polygonal base to a quarter dome terminating in the rounded apse arch. During the Gothic period, the chancel ceiling was cross-vaulted while the chancel arch was widened and given a pointed top. The nave has retained a flat ceiling. The red brick tower on a fieldstone base has flat arched windows to the south and west. It opens into the nave through a large irregular arch. The Renaissance altarpiece (1617) is rather a rough piece of rural craftmanship. The large cornice is borne by two Ionic columns. The central painting by Stefan Viggo Pedersen (1926) depicts the announcement of Jesus' birth to the shepherds. Designed by Jørgen Ringnis, the intricately carved pulpit (1639) is in the Auricular style. With the four Evangelists in shell-framed panels, it closely resembles the pulpit in Lolland's Ryde Church. The pilasters have however been renewed during rebuilding work in 1805 although the cherub heads and ornamental decorations have been retained. The hexagonal canopy bears a dove at the top and angels' heads on the corners. The pulpit, staircase and canope are varnished but not coloured.
In 1893, frescos were discovered in the apse and chancel, dating to the second half of the 13th century. The chancel fresco, restored by E. Lind in 1942, includes scenes from Christ's childhood including the Flight to Egypt depicting Joseph, Mary and the ass. They are said to be among the oldest in the region.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.