Roskilde Cathedral: Learn All About This Church In Denmark

Sridevi Tolety
Sep 08, 2022 By Sridevi Tolety
Originally Published on Apr 12, 2022
Edited by Aubree Mosby
Fact-checked by Sonali Rawat
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In 1026, the king of England and Denmark, Canute the Great, murdered his brother-in-law on the Roskilde Cathedral premises

Did you know that Roskilde Cathedral was approved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

Roskilde Cathedral is situated in northwest Zealand, Denmark. It was originally built as a Romanesque structure; later, porches and chapels were added.

Roskilde Cathedral in Denmark (Roskilde Domkirke) is famous for its gothic architecture imbued with history. Now, Roskilde Cathedral is a working church that holds concerts every year, and it is a major tourist attraction in Denmark.

History Of Roskilde Cathedral

Roskilde Cathedral, situated on the island of Zealand, Denmark, is believed to have been built during the 12th and 13th centuries. Earlier, Roskilde Cathedral was a wooden church built by Harold Bluetooth in 980.

It is believed that when Harold died, the army buried him in the wooden Church he had built to honor the Holy Trinity. From the 11th century, monarchs have been buried at Roskilde Cathedral. The tombs of king Sweyn Frederick, Christian IV, Frederick II, and Frederik III are found at Roskilde Cathedral.

In the mid 12th century, Bishop Absalom and Craftsmen from Lombardy converted it into a brick cathedral. After his death, his successor, Bishop Peder Sunesen, continued building the cathedral.

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee approved Roskilde Cathedral in 1995, chiefly for two reasons. Firstly, the historic Roskilde Cathedral represents the evolution of European architecture. Secondly, Roskilde Cathedral is made of bricks, which resembles gothic architecture. The gothic style had a profound influence on the reach of brick buildings all over northern Europe.

Initially, Roskilde Cathedral was a catholic church, but after the Protestant Reformation in 1538, it became the Church of Protestants. Roskilde Cathedral is the oldest ecclesiastical building in Denmark.

The Architecture Of Roskilde Cathedral

Roskilde Cathedral is entirely built of bricks, representing French-influenced gothic architecture, and this style had a profound influence on European architectural styles. Roskilde Cathedral has been the mausoleum for the Danish royal family.

Initially, the Roskilde Cathedral was designed in a Romanesque structure. With the influence of the gothic style and added chapels and porches, this cathedral has become a representation of the evolution of European architecture.

The cathedral's interior walls were initially bare but were later coated with a greyish yellow smooth stucco. The cathedral's royal monument has a series of royal burials dating back to the 10th century. According to some studies, more than 40 kings and queens are buried in the Roskilde Cathedral.

Roskilde Cathedral is also famous for its tall spires, and it can be seen all over the town. It took a hundred years to construct the cathedral, and Roskilde Cathedral has 2.5 million fire clay bricks in different sizes and colors.

This French-inspired gothic architecture has many added chapels, and each chapel represents the king's interests and exhibits different architectural styles of the time it was built.

The Construction Of Roskilde Cathedral

Roskilde Cathedral is the oldest ecclesiastical building in Denmark. It is said to have been built in the 12th and 13th centuries by Harold Bluetooth, who introduced Christianity in Denmark. The cathedral was Scandinavia's first gothic cathedral entirely made of bricks. Roskilde Cathedral has been the tomb of the Danish royal family.

Roskilde Cathedral has gothic and Romanesque structures. It is 282 ft (86 m) long and 89 ft (27 m) wide. The cathedral has two towers and spires. The cathedral has been a royal burial site since the 10th century.

Roskilde Cathedral houses mainly six chapels built by monarchs. Each chapel represents the distinct architectural style for the time it was built.

The chapel of magi has two floors, and the lower floor is the burial site of King Christian I. Christian IV's chapel is constructed in Dutch Renaissance style. It has a sandstone figure placed on the gable steps, representing Christian virtues. Frederick V's chapel is built in a neoclassical style.

The chapel's interior has plain whitewashed walls, while the exterior retained brick walls. Frederick V's chapel shows a gradual drift from marble to velvet-covered sarcophagi.

Christian IX's chapel is a Roman inspired chapel built in a Byzantine revival style. It has grey walls and a domed roof. Near Christian IX and Queen Louis's coffin, three female figures are placed representing grief, memory, and love.

St. Andrew's chapel was built in 1396, and St. Bridget's Chapel was constructed in 1485. Queen Margrethe II has chosen St. Bridget's chapel for her future burial. Frederick IX's burial site was the first grave outside of Roskilde Cathedral.

King Frederick IX always wished to be buried outside the cathedral. It is a simple, brick octagon-shaped tomb with a bronze gate. After the burial of Queen Ingrid, the grave was permanently sealed in the year 2000.

Inside the Roskilde church, a special bell is rung twice every day in memory of Queen Margrethe I, who left her property to construct the cathedral.

Its Cultural Importance

With rich culture and history, Roskilde is one of Denmark's most popular tourist destinations. Roskilde Cathedral, the significant monument, is known for its unique gothic structure.

The gothic style had a significant influence on the spread of brick buildings all over northern Europe. The cathedral has entombed more than 40 kings and queens since the 10th century. Roskilde is popular for its notable music festival that has taken place between June and July since 1971.

Roskilde houses the prominent Viking Ship Museum. The Viking Ship Museum is Denmark's national museum for ships of the medieval period. Roskilde is also famous for the museum of pop-rock and youth culture.

Another important sight in Roskilde is the Kronborg Castle. It is also known as ' Elsinore' in William Shakespeare's Hamlet. The Kronborg is a Renaissance castle that was approved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.

FAQs

Who is buried inside Roskilde Cathedral?

A: According to some studies, more than 40 kings and queens are buried in Roskilde Cathedral

Who built Roskilde Cathedral?

A: Harold Bluetooth, who introduced Christianity to Denmark, built a wooden church in 980. After his death, the army buried him in the church he had built.

Where is Roskilde Cathedral located?

A: Roskilde Cathedral is located in Roskilde, Zealand Island, Denmark.

How did it get its name?

A: The cathedral got its name from the city of Roskilde. Roskilde is also famous for its museum of pop-rock, Viking Ship Museum, Kronborg Castle, and its youth culture

What is special about it?

A: Roskilde Cathedral is known for its unique structure, rich in history, and it is a perfect example of the evolution of European architectural style. The cathedral is Scandinavia's first gothic cathedral.

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Written by Sridevi Tolety

Bachelor of Science specializing in Botany, Master of Science specializing in Clinical Research and Regulatory Affairs

Sridevi Tolety picture

Sridevi ToletyBachelor of Science specializing in Botany, Master of Science specializing in Clinical Research and Regulatory Affairs

With a Master's degree in clinical research from Manipal University and a PG Diploma in journalism from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Sridevi has cultivated her passion for writing across various domains. She has authored a wide range of articles, blogs, travelogues, creative content, and short stories that have been published in leading magazines, newspapers, and websites. Sridevi is fluent in four languages and enjoys spending her spare time with loved ones. Her hobbies include reading, traveling, cooking, painting, and listening to music.

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Fact-checked by Sonali Rawat

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature, Masters of Art specializing in English and Communication Skills

Sonali Rawat picture

Sonali RawatBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature, Masters of Art specializing in English and Communication Skills

Sonali has a Bachelor's degree in English literature from Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University and is currently pursuing a Master's in English and Communication from Christ University. With considerable experience in writing about lifestyle topics, including travel and health, she has a passion for Japanese culture, especially fashion, and anime, and has written on the subject before. Sonali has event managed a creative-writing festival and coordinated a student magazine at her university. Her favorite authors are Toni Morrison and Anita Desai.

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