Astoft
         
  Roskilde Cathedral
Denmark
 
     
  Roskilde Cathedral is the burial place of Danish monarchs since the late Middle Ages (list at bottom of page). It was included in UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1995. The main body of the church was started around 1170 by Bishop Absalon and completed about 1280. First intended to be built in granite this was almost immediately changed to brick following the introduction of brickmaking in Denmark in about 1160. It replaced a previous stone church of about 1080. The first church on the site was of wood and built by King Harald Bluetooth, the first Christian Danish king. He died about 985 and is buried on the site (although not known exactly where).
Dansk
     
  Click on the photos to enlarge

The sequence of photos is east-south-west-north, followed by the interior
 
         
         
                    
         
 

Approaching the cathedral from the east, past the earlier Bishop's House (Late Baroque style of 1736  by Laurids de Thurah). The choir with the apse is the oldest part of the church, started by Absalon around 1170 in the Romanesque style of the time, with  round-headed windows. The new Gothic style with pointed arches was introduced shortly after from France and dominates in the rest of the church as completed over the next 100 years. In the centuries following, the many royal burial chapels and the western towers were  added in the styles of the time, as we shall see.

 
         
                     
         
  1. The Absalon Arch is a passage between the Bishop's House and the church. A tufa stone construction of about 1200.  2. The copper-covered Margaret Spire over the crossing was originally constructed in the 1420s under Erik of Pommern, but has been renewed several times, most recently in 1999.  3. In the middle of the third picture the gabled south transept, to its right the Chapter House with crow-stepped gable; this is the oldest addition to the main building and was constructed around 1200 but altered several times.  4. To the left, i.e. west of the south transept, Frederik V's Chapel in neoclassical style, started in 1775 by C.F.Harsdorff and completed with a dome in 1825 by C.F.Hansen. See also next picture below.  
         
                            
         
  To the west of Frederik V's Chapel is the much older Chapel of the Magi or Christian I's Chapel. It was built in 1462 by Christian I of Oldenburg and his wife Dorothea of Brandenburg as their sepulchre and that of their successors. He was the first king of Denmark from the House of Oldenburg and his dynasty reigned until 1863, but only  two other monarchs and their queens are buried there. Interior details further down the page.  
         
                   
         
  The west end of the  cathedral with the two towers was built around 1400. The spires on top of the towers were added in 1635 by Christian IV. They form a landmark which can be seen from afar in all directions. At the same time a new, very grand portal in Renaissance style was added, but this was moved to Holmens Church in Copenhagen in 1872 (can be seen  here) and replaced with a new portal considered more historically correct and in keeping with the rest of the church.  
         
         
     
  Buildings opposite the west end, overshadowed by the towers.
View to  Roskilde Fjord.
 
         
         
         
  The Octagon outside the north-west corner of the cathedral, erected 1985, and containing the grave of King Frederik IX, died 1972, and Queen Ingrid, died 2000. Also intended as the burial place of his successors. The paving and planting are from the North Atlantic parts of the kingdom. The gravestone is of Greenland granite. Frederik IX served in the navy, loved the sea, was heavily  tattooed, and was known as the "sailor king".  
         
                     
         
  The north side of the cathedral from west to east.  
  Christian IX's Chapel, also called the Glücksburg Chapel since Christian IX (reigned 1863-1906) was the first king from the House of Glücksburg, replacing  the Oldenburg dynasty of the previous 400 years. The chapel was erected in 1924 and designed by Andreas Clemmensen in a Romanesque/Byzantine inspired  style.
Christian IV's Chapel built 1614-41 by the architect brothers Lorenz og Hans van Steenwinckel with a characteristic Dutch Renaissance gable end, i.e. red brick surfaces with dressings and sculptures in sandstone. They were also responsible for Børsen in Copenhagen and other buildings for Christian IV, the Builder King.
The tall north transept gable and to its left Oluf Mortensen's Porch of about 1450 with its beautiful gable in the Late Medieval Gothic of North Germany.
 
         
              
         
  The nave looking east towards the choir  
     
             
     
  The nave looking west  
     
  The nave was built in the course of the 1200s after completion of the choir around the beginning of that century. Around 3 million bricks, manufactured locally, were used.
The royal pew high up on the north wall, opposite the organ, is from about 1600 in the reign of Christian IV. The pulpit is from 1609.
 
         
              
         
  The vaulting in the nave. The organ loft on the south side dates from about 1425. The lower panelling is by Herman Raphaelis, Dutch organ builder, and dates from 1554, whilst the upper Baroque facade is from 1654.  
         
             
         
  The chancel with altar, altarpiece, and choir stalls on either side.  Behind the altarpiece stands Queen Margrete I's sarcophagus of 1423 (she died 1412) - picture in Wikipedia. Both are situated between the shallow transepts that Absalon had intended to be much deeper but were altered after his death.  
         
                    
         
  The altarpiece is a gilded woodcarving in oak of about 1560 in Antwerp. It depicts the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The central portion shows the Passion and Crucifixion which in the past was normally only visible on major festive occasions. The wings were folded  over, with only the carvings on the backs of these being visible (front and backs of the wings shown below).  
         
                  
         
  The front of the left wing shows the first scenes of Easter week whilst the front of the right wing shows the death, resurrection and ascension. The backs of the wings show scenes of the miracles and adult life of Jesus.  
         
     
  The choir stalls date from 1420, and the inscription along the top state that they were presented by Bishop Jens Andersen Lodehat in memory of Queen Margrete and her Bishop Peter Jensen Lodehat. The carved reliefs depict scenes from The New Testament on the south side and The Old Testament on the north side (seen here).  
     
                    
         
  The apsidal east end and retrochoir were completed soon after the death of Absalon in 1201. A mixture of  late Romanesque and the new, early Gothic style imported from France in the 1190s by Absalon's successor as archbishop, Peder Sunesøn, and his brother Anders Sunesøn. The supporting granite piers in the first picture are evidence that the church was first intended in 1160 to be built of granite, but this was very soon altered with the introduction of brick at that time in Denmark.
The wall paintings of Christ and the Apostles in the blind arcade above in Gothic style are from 1932.
Each of the four piers of the retrochoir carries a colourful wall painting from the 1570s. They indicate the person supposedly buried in the stone-covered niche in the pier below the painting. They are the oldest tombs in the church. One is that of King Harald Bluetooth, the first Christian Danish  king, who died about 985 and built the first church on the site. However, his tomb has been found to be empty and the precise site of his grave is unknown. The other tombs contain the bones of Estrid, the sister of King Canute, her son Svend Estridsøn, and Bishop Vilhelm. Their remains were moved here about 1225 from their graves in the earlier church.
The retrochoir contains four marble sarcophagi of kings and queens from the early part of the 1700s. The smaller sarcophagus in the foreground is that of Duke Christoffer, brother of Margrete I.
 
         
             
         
  The north aisle looking towards the ambulatory at the east end. Wall painting of St. Laurentius. Banners over the grave of Ove Giedde.
The north aisle looking west toward Trolle's Chapel under the north-west tower.
The south aisle looking west towards Krag's Chapel under the south-west tower.
There are gravestone memorials in the floor throughout the church, totalling about 180.
 
         
                   
         
             
         
  Chapel of the Magi or Christian I's Chapel. The inside is covered in wall paintings from the foundation of the chapel in the 1460s by Christian I and his queen, Dorothea of Brandenburg. They are buried under the chapel and their coats of arms are painted on the east wall (first picture in upper row). In the second picture, Christian III's monument of 1575 in Renaissance style, made by Cornelis Floris in Antwerp. Third picture, Frederik II's monument of 1590, made in Denmark by Gert van Eegen.
The supporting column in the middle of the chapel is called the "kings' column". It is marked with the height of royal persons who have visited the cathedral. The tallest was Christian I (219.5cm), then Peter the Great of Russia (208.4cm). The shortest was Christian VII (164.1cm). The base of the column is Romanesque from the 1100s. On the capital are the arms of Christian I, Queen Dorothea and Bishop Oluf Mortensen Baden.
 
         
         
  Wall paintings in St. Birgitta's Chapel on the north side of the nave. The chapel was built about 1480 and the paintings are from 1511. Here a picture on the west wall showing Jesus and Lazarus whilst Mary Magdalene washes Jesus' feet under the table.  
         
         
             
         
  Christian IV's Chapel on the north side of the cathedral was built 1614-41. The statue of the king was made by Thorvaldsen in 1840. Christian IV died in 1648, his coffin is in the centre of the middle picture, and can also be seen in the other pictures. The other coffins belong to his queen, Anne Cathrine, his son Christian who died before him, his son Frederik III and Queen Sophie Amalie.  
         
             
         
  The two large paintings on opposite sides of the chapel are from the 1860s by Wilhelm Marstrand. They depict  famous scenes from the life of Christian IV. The trompe d'oeil ('trick of the eye') frames by Heinrich Hansen look three-dimensional but are flat painted. The iron-work entrances are by Caspar Fincke and from 1620. They hold the monograms of Christian IV and Anne Cathrine.  
         
         
  The Glücksburg Chapel or Christian IX's Chapel. It contains the graves of the first three Glücksburg kings, namely Christian IX (died 1906), Frederik VIII (died 1912) and Christian X (died 1947).  
         
  Kings buried in Roskilde Cathedral
with the years of their reign

Harald Bluetooth c.958-c.987  Grave unknown
Sweyn Fork-Beard c.987-1014  Grave unknown

Svend Estridsen 1047-1074

Margrete 1. 1375-1412

Christoffer af Bayern 1440-1448  Grave in the choir has disappeared
Christian 1. 1448-1481

Christian 3. 1534-1559
Frederik 2. 1559-1588
Christian 4. 1588-1648
Frederik 3. 1648-1670
Christian 5. 1670-1699
Frederik 4. 1699-1730
Christian 6. 1730-1746
Frederik 5. 1746-1766
Christian 7. 1766-1808
Frederik 6. 1808-1839
Christian 8. 1839-1848
Frederik 7. 1848-1863
Christian 9. 1863-1906
Frederik 8. 1906-1912
Christian 10.1912-1947
Frederik 9. 1947-1972
 
         
         
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