Built around 1350, Birket church is rather younger than many country churches in the area which are typically from the 12th and 13th centuries. Until 1687, it had its own parish priest but it was then annexed to Vesterborg until 1914. After the Reformation it came under the ownership of the Crown but in 1686 was transferred to Pedr Brandt til Pederstrup. The church became independent in 1914.
The church, built of brick on a fieldstone base, consists of a chancel, a nave and a porch. The chancel with its three-sided eastern gable is all that remains of the original brick building from c. 1350. Around 1500, the original nave was replaced by the nave in the Late Gothic style which stands today. The vaulted ceilings of the nave and chancel were added at the same time. The church's exterior is now plastered over and painted yellow.
The wooden bell tower which stands apart from the church near the main entrance to the churchyard is the best preserved example of its kind in Denmark's country churches and one of the finest Medieval timber structures still standing in Denmark and possibly the oldest. Built on the top of an ancient burial mound, it consists of a heavy framework of oak on a fieldstone foundation. The exterior covering of tarred planks has been replaced several times over the years, most recently in 1974.
The church's former altarpiece, a triptych carved by Benedict Dreyer of Lübeck in the early 16th century, is now in the National Museum. It has been replaced by a painting from c. 1800 of Christ's burial attributed to Johan Georg Wahl. The pulpit from the second half of the 18th century has been put together from pieces of various origins, some perhaps from an earlier pulpit. The polygonal Gothic font, as old as the church itself, is in Gotland limestone. Its reliefs depict two birds, an eagle, a cock and a fanciful combination of a lion's body, a horse's head and a human face.
Frescos in the chancelIn 1900, frescos depicting a Gethsemane scene were discovered in the chancel by Jacob Kornerup who restored them in 1910. Jesus is depicted before an altar bearing a chalice containing rice, corn and a whip. The three apostles are shown reading as soldiers in armor typical of the 16th century arrive. A pelican with a halo stands in the centre, reflecting a passage from Revelation.References:
The Old Town Hall of Wrocław is one of the main landmarks of the city. The Old Town Hall's long history reflects developments that have taken place in the city since its initial construction. The town hall serves the city of Wroclaw and is used for civic and cultural events such as concerts held in its Great Hall. In addition, it houses a museum and a basement restaurant.
The town hall was developed over a period of about 250 years, from the end of 13th century to the middle of 16th century. The structure and floor plan changed over this extended period in response to the changing needs of the city. The exact date of the initial construction is not known. However, between 1299 and 1301 a single-storey structure with cellars and a tower called the consistory was built. The oldest parts of the current building, the Burghers’ Hall and the lower floors of the tower, may date to this time. In these early days the primary purpose of the building was trade rather than civic administration activities.
Between 1328 and 1333 an upper storey was added to include the Council room and the Aldermen’s room. Expansion continued during the 14th century with the addition of extra rooms, most notably the Court room. The building became a key location for the city’s commercial and administrative functions.
The 15th and 16th centuries were times of prosperity for Wroclaw as was reflected in the rapid development of the building during that period. The construction program gathered momentum, particularly from 1470 to 1510, when several rooms were added. The Burghers’ Hall was re-vaulted to take on its current shape, and the upper story began to take shape with the development of the Great Hall and the addition of the Treasury and Little Treasury.
Further innovations during the 16th century included the addition of the city’s Coat of arms (1536), and the rebuilding of the upper part of the tower (1558–59). This was the final stage of the main building program. By 1560, the major features of today’s Stray Rates were established.
The second half of the 17th century was a period of decline for the city, and this decline was reflected in the Stray Rates. Perhaps by way of compensation, efforts were made to enrich the interior decorations of the hall. In 1741, Wroclaw became a part of Prussia, and the power of the City diminished. Much of the Stray Rates was allocated to administering justice.
During the 19th century there were two major changes. The courts moved to a separate building, and the Rates became the site of the city council and supporting functions. There was also a major program of renovation because the building had been neglected and was covered with creeping vines. The town hall now has several en-Gothic features including some sculptural decoration from this period.
In the early years of the 20th century improvements continued with various repair work and the addition of the Little Bear statue in 1902. During the 1930s, the official role of the Rates was reduced and it was converted into a museum. By the end of World War II Town Hall suffered minor damage, such as aerial bomb pierced the roof (but not exploded) and some sculptural elements were lost. Restoration work began in the 1950s following a period of research, and this conservation effort continued throughout the 20th century. It included refurbishment of the clock on the east facade.