The Church of Our Lady (Vor Frue Kirke) is the cathedral of Copenhagen and the National Cathedral of Denmark.
Construction of the original Collegiate Church of St. Mary, began no later than 1187 under Bishop of Roskilde named Absalon located on the highest point near the new town of Havn, later Copenhagen. Building at St Mary's continued on and off until 1209 when it was consecrated by Absalon's successor. The church was built in Romanesque style with its half-rounded arches inside and out.
In 1314 a fire destroyed the limestone cathedral so completely that it was rebuilt in the popular new building material of the day, over-sized red brick. The style of building was Gothic, with its typical pointed arches. The rebuilding of the simple church with a long nave and choir continued until 1388. Due to a lack of money, the great tower was not built until the reign of Christian II. It was as high as the church was long, and from artwork of the day, out of proportion to the size of the church.
The Protestant Reformation was hard on the St Mary's. Citizens of Copenhagen had elected to follow Luther, but Catholic officials at St Mary's tried to maintain the church as a center of Catholic resistance to change in Copenhagen. By royal decree both Catholic priests and Lutheran preachers were commanded to use the church jointly which incensed the majority of Copenhagen's population. On 27 Dec 1530 hundreds of citizens stormed St Mary's and destroyed every statue and tore the choir stalls to pieces. Just a year later Our Lady Church celebrated the acceptance of the Lutheran Order presided over by Johan Bugenhagen, an associate of Martin Luther. In 1568 the dean of Our Lady Church was charged with defining accepted practice for Lutheran church services in Denmark under the direction of the Bishop of Zealand, and since that time the dean and later bishop of Our Lady Church has retained that role in the Danish National Church.
Lightning strikes damaged the church in 1573 and 1585 collapsing the some of the vaulting, tower, and roof. The tower was eventually torn down and rebuilt by 1609. It had an extremely tall pyramidal central spire with four shorter spires at each corner. The medieval cathedral along with about a third of the rest of the city burned down in a four day long conflagration in October 1728. Our Lady was completely destroyed.
The church was reconstructed in red brick by 1738 with a simple long nave and rounded choir added at the end, essentially on the same plan as the medieval church. The interior was a combination of Gothic and the ornate Baroque style of the time. The exterior was plain red brick with the exception of an ornate sandstone doorways beneath the spire. After the fire of 1728 the new tower rose higher than the previous one tapering to a tall spire modeled after the spire of St. Martin in the Fields in London.
In September 1807 the cathedral fell victim to the bombardment of Copenhagen by the British Navy in the Napoleonic Wars. The church was burned to the ground along with nearby sections of Copenhagen. Denmark's finest architect, Christian Frederik Hansen, and the city magistrate decided to redesigne the cathedral in the Neo-Classical style. Due to a lack of resources they incorporated elements of the surviving walls. The old surviving vaulting was blown up to make way for a church built in the new style. A pillared portico and a flat interior ceiling and simple classical lines are very different from the medieval church. The cornerstone was laid in 1817 and the work completed by Whitsun Day 1829. The tower, based on the older medieval tower, was a controversial afterthought. The Neo-Classical style did not include towers. But citizens demanded and got a tower modeled on the older medieval tower. The tower is 60 meters high and contains four bells. "Stormklokken" cast in 1828 is the heaviest bell in Denmark at 4 tons. The oldest bell in Denmark also hangs there cast in 1490.
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|Geographical coordinates||55.6794440, 12.5727780|
|Address||1165 Copenhagen, Nørregade 8|
|More information||official website|