Thursday, April 30, 2009

A personal one

This church has a special meaning to me even though it's quite an ordinary one. It's the church were my parents got married quite some years ago and it's placed in the harbor town of Korsør on Zeeland. Korsør Church is also called St. Paul's Church and is placed in the middle of this provincial town. It's from 1871 and replaced a medieval church called St. Gertrud's Church. The tower is facing East because they wanted to have the tower with the entrance to face towards the town.

In Korsør you can also find the World's oldest cinema still in use. It's from 1908 and from a time where Danish movies were in front and the Danish actors like Asta Nielsen were superstars. Then came sound movies and Danish wasn't, and isn't, exactly a World language.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

From the Grand to the Humble

Yesterdays church was a grand one, but todays is a more typical Danish parish church. It's called Grøndal Church and resembles an ordinary village church even though it's placed in Copenhagen right next to one of the busiest roads in the city. It was built in 1928 for collected money from the local community when the area was still dominated by farms. Originally it was meant to be a great church but the collected funds were not enough for the grand Cathedral envisioned by the locals so they had to make do with this one. In the years to follow the city grew around it so it now seems a bit out of place. It's a nice church though.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Our Saviour

The Copenhagen skyline is dominated by spires and towers. One of the more dominant and conspicuous ones is this one, the spire of the Church of Our Saviour. It's in the same area as yesterdays church namely Christianshavn and most noticeable is its spiral staircase on the outside of the spire. As the only church in Denmark it's built in Dutch Baroque-style in the late 1600's at a time when church construction in Denmark was at a standstill (nothing new under the sun - they had an economic crisis at that time too). The spire was inspired by Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza in Rome.

Legend tells that the architect threw himself from the spire when he realized that the spiral was the wrong way around. The story can't be true though, the spire was added 50 years later and the then architect of that died in his bed seven years later, but it's a nice story to tell the tourists.

On top of the spire is a figure with a flag called the Saviour Man that is called the ugliest sculpture in Copenhagen but that is due to its exaggerated proportions because it's only meant to be seen from afar.

The church itself has been closed for the last three years due to renovation but it's scheduled for opening in September.

BTW it's possibly for the adventurous visitor to climb the stairs on the spire, but vertigo is a sure companion on the stairs :-)

Monday, April 27, 2009

New and old

Christian's Church is an odd one. It's a German church in the area of Christianshavn in Copenhagen. It was built in 1759 by the German community in Christianshavn and was named Frederik's German Church, but it was renamed Christian's Church after King Christian IV in 1901. It's now an ordinary parish church for the area and no longer serve as a German church. Locally it's called the Theater Church due to its many galleries inside. It's surronded by modern Ministries and old warehouses converted to residences, hence the title of this post.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Citadel Church

Inside the Citadel of Copenhagen is this small church, Kastelskirken. Build in 1704 it was the church for the garrison of the Citadel, but it got a civilian parish in 1902. Behind the church is the prison. This was used as a stockade for the soldiers as well as a prison for troublesome people prosecuted by the Crown, especially traitors. The prisoners could hear the priest preaching by listening through holes in the wall.

One of the most prominent "guests" of the prison was the Queen Caroline Matilde's lover Struense, who was beheaded, drawn and quartered 28th of April 1772. His remains were put on display on pikes at the city's gates. He were buried anonymous but his remains were discovered in 1895 and reburied at Vestre Cemetery. The Queen got off a little easier; she was divorced and deported to Celle.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Where the cemetery of yesterday was for sailors this one is for soldiers. And it's just on the other side of the road. Called Garrison Cemetery (Danish Garnisions Kirkegården) it was laid out as a cemetery in 1664 mainly for soldiers. During the plague of 1711 it was decided that civilians could be buried here as well.

The image shows the memorial for the fallen of the 3-years war in 1848 - 1850. Other war monuments include one for the war of 1864. A famous Danish General, Olaf Rye, who died during a break-out from besieged Fredericia in 1849, is buried here too.

Friday, April 24, 2009


This photo of a wreath was taken on the last day of 2008 at Holmens Cemetery in Copenhagen. It's tradition to place a wreath or buoquet on the grave of a missed relative during the holidays.

Holmen's Cemetery is the oldest cemetery in Copenhagen still in use. The cemetery was originally used as a cemetery by the Navy for poor sailors, but is now open for anyone in the parish of Holmen's Church. The cemetery also have a number of monuments to the fallen of sea battles, among them the fallen from the Battle of Copenhagen, 1801.

Among celebrities buried here are the poet Johan Ludvig Heiberg, the composer H.C. Lumbye and the author Dea Trier Mørch.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Best Blog Thinker Award

I got quite a surprise today, Catherine Mark-Beasant awarded me the Best Blog Thinker Award. It's always nice to be noticed, especially by a great blogger like Cathrine. So now I've got to try to live up to this honor. I will of course continue with my themes and daily posts with the odd digression when I've stumbled on something worthy.

Having said that, I realized that I had to include something in this post and I found the photos above, recently taken on one of my walks. The statue is called Youth On Horse and is by Vilhelm Bissen, a Danish sculptor and son of Herman Wilhelm Bissen. It's from 1903 and can be found in the North West of Copenhagen near Bellahøj. The mask, party hat and scarf are of newer date:-)


This is part of a grave stone on Assistens Cemetery in the workers area of Nørrebro in Copenhagen. It was founded in 1757 and was for many years the city's main burial place. It's mainly associated with the Danish Golden Age from 1800 to 1850 and has a lot of the historic figures of that time buried here, among them Hans Christian Andersen and Søren Kierkegaard. You can also find the graves of Henry Heerup, Ben Webster and Niels Bohr of later fame.

A part of the cemetery is a Memorial Park and museum area, and by 2020 a third of the cemetery will be a proper park. As is all other major cemeteries in Copenhagen, this one is also used as an informal park with joggers, people walking their dogs and couples with prams.

What I like about it, is the abundance of old style gravestones like the one above. They were the rage among the well-to-do of the 19th Century and the first half of the 20th.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


In the South end of Vestre Cemetery two long straight paths crosses each other at the building in the background. It's almost artistic. This image was taken on the same cold morning as yesterdays, hence the low sun and the frost on the grass. It's almost a twin of Wikipedia's picture but that was unintentional.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Soul Collector

Leaving the churches for a bit and going to the cemeteries instead I have this photo for. It was taken a frosty morning at Vestre Cemetery in Valby, Copenhagen. I like the photo for its frost on the surface which gives the bronze a very special look.

Vestre Cemetery is one of five large cemeteries in Copenhagen. It functions not only as a cemetery, but also as a park. And with ½ km2 there's room enough for both. It was opened in 1870 and has different sections for both Protestants, Catholics, Muslims, German soldiers, Greenland, Faroe Islands and English soldiers. In the middle of the cemetery is a lake around which only important persons can be buried. In this area you find a number of late Prime Ministers, explorers, actors and artists. It's a beautiful landscaped area, perfect for reflection on life and a quiet stroll while brushing up on one's historic knowledge.

I'll bring more photos from this and other cemeteries in the days to come.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A church that is no church

This a church that is no longer a church. It's an art center. Even though it's still called St. Nicholas's Church it hasn't been a church for more than 200 years! Part of it burned in 1795 and it ceased being a church in 1805. The spire is a reconstruction paid for by art patron and brewer Carl Jacobsen (have I mentioned him before?) in 1909 and only the tower beneath is the original building. The rest is a reconstruction from 1912 and has been used as a library, a look out place for firemen and a naval museum. Since 1981 it's been an art center for Copenhagen City.

The original church was build in the 13th Century and is the 3rd oldest church in Copenhagen. In the 16th Century it was the center for the spreading of the Danish Reformation, mainly because of its priest Hans Tausen.

BTW it's a challenge to photograph this building; it's tall with only a little space around it and the high buildings on both sides assure that there's only sun on part of it. That's why I've chosen to take the photo of the tower from a side street.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday Special III

The oldest of four round churches on Bornholm
is Østerlars from 1100AD. The round churches were
used as fortresses when pirates from Northern
Germany raided Bornholm.

I'm finally online again after a working trip to the Danish island of Bornholm last week. Thank you for all your comments on my posts. I'll comment on them in the comment section of each post. And then I'll have to catch up on all your posts too.

In this post I'll show you a few of the 500 photos I got home with me. I hope you like them.

The ruin of Hammershus Castle is the biggest
in Northern Europe. It was build in ca. 1100 by
the Archbishop of Lund as a base for the crusades
to the Baltic Countries. I didn't get many photos
here because we went there at night.

We went to a Bird-of-Prey Show where
we were shown this little American kestrel.
And then the birds got bigger...a lot bigger!

The falconers were extremely friendly with
the birds, here a Harris hawk.

This eagle was aiming for me...and hit
me in flight. Talk about the audience
getting close to the birds!

It is a big eagle. 5 kg and a wingspan of 2 meters.

The eagle has landed (almost):-)

The final bird was this vulture. 9 kg and a
wingspan of 3 meters. And it flew
just a few cms
above our heads. I can warmly recommend
a visit to this kind of show. It was absolutely fantastic.

Bornholm is a rocky island. Here Jon's Chapel.

At the Shrine (Helligdommen)
the cliffs are about 30 meters

The Baltic Sea hammers the rocks

The Shrine

The Shrine

On Bornholm the local speciality is smoked herring.
They are smoked locally in these smokehouses.
It's a treat with blackbread, salt and egg yolk.
This is the last working smokehouse in the
beautifull little town of Gudhjem.

Gudhjem with smokehouse chimneys

In the main town of Rønne they still have about
400 timber houses like these, all well preserved.



Aa Church is considered the oldest church
on Bornholm, and the main one. It's
from around 1100 and is in Aakirkeby.

As you can see it really is an island worth visiting even when actually working:-)

An English Church in Copenhagen

Next to Copenhagen Citadel you can see a strange sight; a typical English Church. It's called St. Alban's Church and it's the only Anglican Church in Denmark. The funds for it came mainly through the work of the Danish Princess Alexandra who married the later King Edward VII of the United Kingdom. The cornerstone was laid in 1885 by Princess Alexandra in the presence of half the European Royalty. It was consecrated in 1887 again with a great Royal presence. A nice little church in a nice place.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Marble Church

During my theme about statues in Copenhagen I promised to get back to the Marble Church in Copenhagen again, and now is the time for a little more about this supposedly 3rd largest dome church in Europe. As told before it's a parish church with the Royal palace of Amalienborg as a neighbor.

It is placed on an axis along which lie Amalienborg, Amalie Garden and the new Opera of Copenhagen. The work on the church began in 1749 but because of budget cuts and the death of the architect Nicolai Eigtved in 1754 it was delayed and lay as a ruin for nearly 150 years. It wasn't finished until 1894 so delays and budget problems isn't a modern thing.

The dome has a span of 31 m making it the largest in Scandinavia. It's told by guides that it's the 3rd largest in Europe, but I've heard the same said about Mosta Dome in Malta. It's obviously quite an art to measure a dome!

At the moment there's debate about a metro project that places a station next to the church. Many people are concerned that the work will damage the church and they wants to move the station to another location.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Two Towers

Roskilde Cathedral with its two spires can be seen for miles around the former Danish Capital of Roskilde. It was build during the 12th and 13th Century and was the first Gothic cathedral to be build of red bricks, starting a trend in Northern Europe. It replaced a stone cathedral on the site from 1080 and it has been expanded, renovated and rebuild numerous times. It was also the last Catholic stronghold in an otherwise Protestant Zealand until 1540 where all it's belongings were confiscated by the Crown.

From the 15th Century it has been the main burial place for Danish Monarchs but even earlier kings has been buried here, among them Viking kings like Harald Bluetooth and Sweyn Forkbeard. The last to be buried here was Queen Ingrid in 2000.

The inside is a combination of red brick, frescos and chapels along the nave with a large crypt underneath.

The copper roof has been replaced in the last couple of years so it has been covered in scaffolding for a long time but now it should be clear of the clutter.

Roskilde Cathedral website

Thursday, April 16, 2009


In Denmark's oldest surviving city stands Denmark's oldest surviving Cathedral. The first thing that strikes visitors is that the three towers are all different. Actually it's obvious that the Cathedral was build and renovated at several times either because of fire or because a bishop or king wanted something added in their honor. The first stone was laid in 1110 and the last major renovation was in 1904 so it has a long history of building and rebuilding. It's also the only church in Denmark with 5 ships. Inside is buried two Danish kings (Christoffer I and Erik II Emune) and a variety of nobility and VIP's. The inside is decorated by a mixture of the surviving medieval fresco paintings and modern decorations by Carl Henning Pedersen. One decoration that hit me last time I visited was a figure showing a nobleman with a peasant under his foot! I guess it just showed the people of Ribe where their place in society where.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Onion Domes

This isn't a photo taken in Moscow but 2 minutes walk from the Royal palace in Copenhagen. It's the St. Aleksander Nevskij Church which is a Russian Orthodox church shared with all the Orthodox Christians in Denmark. It's named after the Russian folk hero Alexander Nevsky, best known for his victory over the Teutonic Knights. The church was a gift from the Danish Princess Dagmar when she married Prince Alexander of Russia who later became Zar Alexander III.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Church of Grundtvig

In the Bisbebjerg area of Copenhagen this Neo-Gothic church can be found. It was finished in 1927 as a memorial church for Nikolaj Frederik Severin Grundtvig (1783 - 1872) who was one of the founders of the modern Danish church. He was a writer, poet, hymn-writer, pastor, teacher, philosopher, historian and politician influencing Danish national self consciousness in the late 19. Century. Today we Danes mostly knows him for his many hymns; he made a staggering 1500 of them in his career. Another area which he influenced was the folk high schools where adults could (and still can) learn practical skills without a degree or examinations and with a focus on self development. It's a testimony to Grundtvig's influence that it was decided to build this church in his memory.

Centre for Grundtvig Studies

Monday, April 13, 2009

Spring has come

A little post out of theme to announce that spring has come to Copenhagen. I just hope it'll last :-)

The photos are all from Copenhagen taken in the last couple of days.

As my work will keep me a bit busy for the next few days, I won't be able to answer your comments or to comment on your blogs. My posts for the next week are all planned though so do come back daily. And the theme will still be churches. I promise to be back online in the weekend.

Happy Easter to all.

Our Lady again

Yesterday I told you about The Church of Our Lady in Copenhagen. Inside it you can find some of the most beautiful statues of Christ and His Apostles all made by the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen for the Church. The statues were modelled in 1821 - 1840 and are the highlight of his career. The statue of Christ took four attempts before Thorvaldsen was satisfied. All the statues are made of Italian marble and give the inside of the church a light and serene atmosphere.

Thorvaldsen was one of the greatest Danish artists and he was commissioned to do work all over Europe among them the monument for Pope Pius VII in St. Peters Church in Rome.

The second photo shows plaster copies of the Christ group on display at Thorvaldsen's Museum in Copenhagen. Here you can also find copies of most of his works. Thorvaldsen's tomb is placed in the inner courtyard of the museum.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Our Lady

The Church of Our Lady is both the Cathedral for Copenhagen and the National Cathedral for Denmark. It's build in Neo-Classical style and was completed in 1829. It replaced a church (actually the second church at the site) that was destroyed during the English bombardment of Copenhagen i 1807. The tower was build after public demand because you simply couldn't build a church in Denmark without a bell tower. Among the four bells is the oldest in Denmark, cast in 1490 and the heaviest, "Stormklokken", with a weight of 4 tons. The last major event in the church was the wedding of Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary Donaldson.

Tomorrow I'll tell you a little about the interior of this church which is magnificent.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Five Towers

In Kalundborg stands this one of a kind church. It's the Church of our Lady and its five spires and Greek cross layout is not a sight you see every day. The church was finished around 1220 by Ingeborg, daughter of Esbern Snare, not as a keep, as could be suspected, but as a reminder of the Heavenly Jerusalem. The Heavenly Jerusalem was thought to be a city with five towers where God and man could live in harmony for ever after.

There's a legend connected with the building of the church.

The legend tells how Esbern Snare was building the church. It was hard work, and a troll, who was passing by, offered his services. Esbern accepted; however, the troll's condition was that Esbern should be able to figure out the troll's name by the time the church was finished; if he could not, the troll would take his heart and his eyes.

The troll was strong, and after a few days, there was only a half pillar left to erect before the church would be completed. Esbern became afraid, as the name of the troll was still unknown to him. Wandering the fields in great anxiety, he laid himself down on Ulshøj bank to rest. While there, he heard a troll-woman within the hill singing these words:

Lie still, baby mine!

Tomorrow cometh Fin,

Father thine,

And giveth thee

Esbern Snare's

eyes and heart

to play with.

Esbern returned immediately to the church. The troll was busy setting up the half pillar that remained for the church, and when Esbern saw him, he called out "Fin". The troll was so angry that he threw the half pillar through the air, and this is the reason that the church has only three and a half pillars to this day.

Friday, April 10, 2009

St. Bendts Church

St. Bendts Church in Ringsted west of Copenhagen was originally a Benedictine abbey church. It was build in 1170 as one of the earliest brick buildings in Europe. It's the last resting place for 5 Danish medieval kings and a great number of nobilities.