Church of Our Saviour (Vor Frelsers Kirke) is a baroque church in Copenhagen, Denmark. Most famous for its corkscrew spire with an external winding staircase that can be climbed to the top, offering extensive views over central Copenhagen. It is also noted for its carillon, which is the largest in northern Europe and plays melodies every hour from 8 am to midnight.
When Christian IV planned Christianshavn in 1617, it was intended as an independent merchant's town and it therefore needed a church. A temporary church was inaugurated in 1639 but construction of the present Church of Our Saviour, the design of Lambert van Haven, did not start until 1682. The church was inaugurated in 1695 but important interior features had a notoriously temporary character and the tower still had no spire.The church got its permanent altar in 1732 but plans for construction of the spire was not revitalized until 1747 under the reign of Frederik V.
The new architect on the project was Lauritz de Thurah. He soon abandoned van Haven´'s original design in favour of his own project that was approved by the King. Three years later the spire was finished and the King climbed the tower at a ceremony on 28 August 1752.
The church's basic layout is a Greek cross. The walls rest on a granite foundation and are made of red and yellow tiles but in a random pattern. The facade is segmented by pilasters in the palladian giant order, that is they continue in the building's entire height. The cornice is in sandstone but with a frieze in tiles. Between the pilasters are tall round-arched windows with clear glass and iron cames. There are entrances at the gable of the cross arms except for the eastern gable where the sacristy is added. The main entrance is in the western gable below the tower and has a sandstone portal.
The altarpiece is the work of Nicodemus Tessins and is considered a masterpiece. It depicts a scene from the Garden of Gethsemane between two columns, where Jesus is comforted by an angel while another angel hangs in the air beside them, carrying the golden chalice. On each side, two figures of Pietas and Justitia illustrate the King's motto.
The huge organ with Christian V’s gilded monogram was built by the Botzen Brothers from 1698-1700 and is mounted on the wall and supported by two elephants. The organ has more than 4000 pipes with the original cymbelstern tinkling in the background during a special part of a music piece, and the entire instrument produces the sound that was heard in the church over 300 years ago.
The black and golden spire reaches a height of 90 metres and the external staircase turns four times anticlockwise around it. Inspiration for the design came from the spiral lantern of Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza, which turns the same way around. It is built as a timber-framed structure, octagonal at its base, with round-arched openings and round windows. Around the octagonal base of the spire, on the four corners of the square tower, stand four statues of the four evangelists. The octagonal structure is topped by a small platform with a gilded railing and it is from this point that the staircase become external. There is a total number of 400 steps to the top of the spire, the last 150 being outside. The spire is topped by a vase-like structure, carrying a gilded globe with a 4-meter-tall figure, carrying a banner. It has an infamous reputation for being the ugliest sculpture in Copenhagen but is intentionally made with exaggerated proportions because it is only meant to be seen from long distances.
There is a long-lived urban legend stating that the architect killed himself by jumping from the top of the spire, when he realised that the spiral turns the wrong way - anticlockwise - around. There is not a grain of truth in the myth though, since Thurah died in his bed seven years after the spire was completed, and there is nothing in the records that indicates that he should have been unhappy with his work in any way.
The tower of the church is equipped with a concert carillon from 1928 that was rebuilt in 1980 and consists of 48 bronze carillon bells that have a musical range of four octaves, which makes it the largest carillon system in North Europe. Totally the Carillon instrument weighs almost 12 tonnes and chimes every hour over Christianshavn with different hymn compositions.
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|Geographical coordinates||55.6727780, 12.5938890|
|Address||1416 Copenhagen, Sankt Annæ Gade 29|
|More information||official website|