Nørre Alslev Church dates from at least 1308, a date found on its early frescos. Built in the Early Gothic style and painted pink according to local tradition, it is best known for its fresco of the death dance. In the Middle Ages, the church was dedicated to St Nicholas. The Early Gothic chancel and nave are built of brick on a 60 cm high sloping foundation. The chancel, with a three-sided end, has a stepped frieze. The tower with its stepped gable and the porch are Late Gothic.
The chancel has a dome-shaped vault with semicircular ribs on dwarf columns. The chancel arch is pointed while the nave has a humped vault with clover-shaped ribs and webbing. The present vault has possibly been supported by additional masonry after a fall as evidence of a higher vault has been found.
The recently restored altarpiece is the work of Jørgen Ringnis (1653). The central panel contains an alabaster relief by Henry Luckow-Nielsen (1948). The pulpit (1643) is also made by Ringis.
Nørre Alslev Church has frescos from four different periods. They have been restored on several occasions, first by Jacob Kornerup (1825–1913) who discovered them in 1895, then in 1911 by Eigil Rothe (1868–1929) and finally by Harald Borre (1891–1964) in 1941. Those in the apse date from the beginning of the 14th century, one apparently dated 1308. The Majestas Domini over the chancel arch is from c. 1350. Rothe discoved a number of frescos in the nave which were from around 1400 but they were again covered with whitewash in view of their fragile condition. Around 1500, the entire nave was decorated with frescos by the Elmelunde Master and his workshop but many of those discovered have again been whitewashed.
The most interesting of the Elmelunde frescos is the one on the west wall depicting the death dance. While the death dance (which stems from the plague) can be seen in many church decorations across Europe, it is unusual in Denmark, the only other occurrences being in Egtved and Jungshoved. Given the limited space, the fresco in Nørre Alslev is somewhat simplified but it includes a king, a bishop, a lord and a peasant. Interestingly, unlike the skeletons often represented in the death dance, the figures here are all fully clothed.References:
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.
Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.
In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.