Roskilde Cathedral (World Heritage)

By | September 7, 2021

The cathedral in Roskilde on the island of Zealand was built in the 12th century and is not only the largest church, but also the oldest Gothic brick building in Denmark. The sacred building has been expanded several times over the years and served as a burial place for Danish rulers.

Roskilde Cathedral: Facts

Official title: Roskilde Cathedral
Cultural monument: in the former royal residence the three-aisled, 85 m long brick cathedral, also known as St. Lucas Cathedral, from the 12th and 13th centuries, probably the fourth church at this point and since the 15th century the burial place of the Danish kings; 38 rulers are buried here
Continent: Europe
Country: Denmark, Zealand
Location: Roskilde, south end of the Roskilde Fjord, west of Copenhagen
Appointment: 1995
Meaning: first Gothic brick cathedral in Scandinavia, symbol of Christian tradition in Northern Europe

Roskilde Cathedral: History

1158 Absalon (around 1128-1201), who helped Waldemar I (1131-82) to the Danish throne, becomes Bishop of Roskilde
around 1170 Cathedral building
1413 Burial of Margaret I (1353-1412)
1443 Relocation of the court from Roskilde to Copenhagen
1460 Construction of the Chapel of the Magi, burial place of Christian I, Christian III. and Friedrich II.
1536 Reformation according to the Augsburg Confession
1609 alabaster-clad sandstone pulpit
1635 Put on the copper helmets of the towers
1658 Denmark renounces southern Swedish possessions in the Peace of Roskilde
1825 Completion of the Chapel of Frederick V
1917-23 Construction of Christian IX’s chapel (1863-1906)
1968 extensive restoration after fire
1985 Construction of the burial chapel of Frederick IX. (1947-72)

The destination of the last trip

Admiral Just Juel was a seafarer, a diplomat, and a noble nobleman. During his lifetime, at the beginning of the 18th century, the highly decorated naval officer stayed for four years as envoy to the Russian court of Tsar Peter the Great in Saint Petersburg, but in 1715 he served again as commander of the Royal Danish Navy. In this fateful year he led his units in the Baltic Sea near Rügen to a glorious victory over the Swedish fleet. But a twelve-pound cannonball made of Swedish steel hit and killed the admiral at the very hour of his triumph. The floor now hangs next to a plaque dedicated to the nobleman in Roskilde Cathedral, directly above the entrance to the family crypt.

This makes it clear what high rank the Juel family had in Denmark, because the imposing Gothic brick building is the place where Denmark’s monarchs find their final resting place to this day. However, this tradition has thrown the princes of the church into problems of our day: Since the middle of the 20th century, the last place in the numerous chapels of the cathedral has been given forever. And so for King Frederik IX, who died in 1972. a brand new chapel will already be built outside the cathedral. At first glance, the octagonal, roofless building on the northeast corner of the church looks a little inconspicuous and unfinished as a visual alternative.

As the nation’s eternal construction site, the cathedral has long since gone down in history. Its original construction dragged on over many centuries. New chapels were added several times, but the renovation of older components also kept the town’s craftsmen in suspense. Especially with the eastern Margaretenturmspitze they always had their burden – but also their daily bread. Check beautypically to see Denmark Landmarks.

The tower is said to have been commissioned by the monarch Erich von Pomerania sometime in the 16th century, but the first major renovation was due as early as 1656. Three centuries later, despite repeated renovations, the entablature under the green copper roof had once again become so rotten that the top was completely renewed. Shortly before completion, on August 26, 1968, a fire destroyed the beautiful church tower and large parts of the roof structure over the nave. The subsequent new building was obviously an embarrassing faulty construction, because a reconstruction of the spire was necessary again at the end of the 1990s.

A tour of the cathedral is at the same time a walk through eras of European art and culture and a study of human vanity. Because the rulers of the past centuries – they took care of the furnishing of their burial chambers while they were still alive – consciously or unconsciously always set their personal accents most clearly at the place of their final resting place.

Christian IV’s chapel, for example, at first glance does not seem to fit a monarch who, as a successful warlord and builder, secured an indelible entry in the Danish history books until his death in 1648. But although he had been working on the burial chapel years before his death, at the hour of his death it was only enough for a barren, unadorned room. It was not until the new wave of national romanticism that swept across the kingdom in the 19th century that the chapel blossomed in its splendor that can still be admired today. Well-known artists, architects and sculptors of this time willingly contributed and, in addition to their historical king, also set an important monument for themselves.

Margaret I was one of the first to find her final resting place in Roskilde. The successful regent, who had suffered the Black Death on her ship in the Flensburg Fjord, was initially buried in Sorø at her own request. However, her close collaborator during her lifetime, the Bishop of Roskilde, Peder Jensen Lodehat, kidnapped the remains of the monarch in a night-and-fog operation and brought them to his cathedral, where the funeral was re-staged in 1413. All of Margarete’s successors made their last trip to Roskilde voluntarily.

Roskilde Cathedral (World Heritage)