Church of the Day – Grundtvig’s Church, Copenhagen

Grundtvig’s Church was built in memory of the priest, hymn writer, and educator Nikolaj Frederik Severin Grundtvig (1783 – 1872). His significance for Denmark was so great that it was decided to build a memorial in his honor. Two competitions for proposals were held in 1912 and 1913, with a church designed by architect Jensen Klint selected as the winner over simpler columns and statues…and at much greater expense, roughly twenty times what was planned! The foundation was laid in 1921 and the structure was completed just as WWII was breaking out in 1940. This was built from the ground up as a Danish Protestant church so it was never originally a Catholic church that had been converted during or after the Reformation.  

Many of the nearby buildings have the same yellow bricks and similar red roofline. The intent in selecting the site on then-unpopulated Bispebjerg Hill was to create a new neighborhood with affordable, high-quality homes for the working class. Funds for construction were collected from people across Denmark and Danes living abroad, with the Danish government matching the amount collected. Thus the church belongs to all Danish people.

Here is a view of the imposing façade. The full structure is made of five million yellow bricks.

Let’s go inside…

The interior of the Grundtvig is very monochromatic, with none of the Technicolor the Catholics like. It’s a striking contrast to the Catholic De Krijtberg church we saw in Amsterdam.  

Of the architect, Jensen Klint, it’s said, “he integrated a number of simple numerical ratios that provide the inside of the church and the building as a whole with a sense of harmony that is easy on the eye.” Yes!

The altar…The tin candlesticks were designed by Jensen Klint’s son Kaare, who actually completed the church after his father died in 1930. Kaare Klint became known as the father of modern Danish furniture design. He designed the chairs in the church too.

Jensen Klint used this same seven-branched candelabrum in four other churches he designed.
Continuing with family involvement, the crucifix was designed by Jensen Klint and formed by Helle Bentsen, his daughter. They were a very talented family.

The church is similar in size to Copenhagen’s cathedral. It has seats for 1,440.

Looking toward the back of the church
Jensen designed the baptismal font in the form of eight mussel shells, old baptismal symbols.

It has been noted that the church is like Grundtvig himself. The bricks are humble building materials, but stacked to dizzying heights they “unite the heavenly and the worldly just as in Grundtvig’s hymns.”

Each pillar is made up of more than 30,000 bricks.

You won’t find saints, popes, or stained glass here but there is a ship, quite common in Danish churches given their seafaring history. Model ships are given by sailors who have been rescued from sea peril, fulfilling their promises to God or a saint for their protection. There are more than 800 model ships in Danish churches.

This is the Grundtvig’s Queen Alexandrine, a four-masted bark. It’s the biggest model ship in Denmark.

The church’s monochromatic interior is similar to the Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavik, Iceland.  The Danish and Icelandic branches of Protestantism are closely related.

The vaults rise 22 meters (72 feet).

The Grundtvig Church organ has the largest organ pipes in Denmark.

A total of 4,052 pipes!
The outer pipes are 33 feet long and weigh 900 pounds each.
An organ worthy of Bach’s compositions!

Although we didn’t find Reverend Grundtvig here in his church, we did find this statue of him across town in front of Frederik’s Church.

Nikolaj Frederik Severin Grundtvig (1783 – 1872)
This entry was posted in Church of the Day, Travel Journal and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Church of the Day – Grundtvig’s Church, Copenhagen

  1. Betsy says:

    Thanks for sharing!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Copenhagen, One of the World’s Most Bike-Friendly Cities | Finger Lakes to Lavender Fields

  3. Pingback: Our Swan Song to Copenhagen | Finger Lakes to Lavender Fields

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