Experience Copenhagen – 1000 years of history on walk: Christianity takes up the city. Tour 2

A vue of 1000 years dramatic history

Text and photos Erik K Abrahamsen

The history of Copenhagen is Denmarks history marked by ups and downs. Long periods of economic revival in the Middle Ages and i 16-17oo century with large construction activity by churches, monasteries, castles, palaces, ramparts and fortress, squares and beautiful houses.

Something has gone caused by attacks and lootings by invaders and the large fires in 1728 and 1795. These 2 fires destroyed thousands of houses in the old city  – but incredibly much has been preserved until to day!

Open your eyes wide open – the city and its history is under your feet, under you and around you – ready to play.

I will guide you through the history by walking through selected parts of the oldest Copenhagen within the city walls. Its a trip where you need your eyes and your imagination to feel and experience the history drama as it unfolded precisely the places we will visit.


Copenhagen in 1600 century. On top of the model is Christianshavn, a fortress and a city build by King Christian 4 about 1620 to protect Copenhagen Castle and city against invaders from Amager. On Slotsholmen is Copenhagen Castle, Harbour for Surplies for the Royal Navy (Provianthavnen) and King Christian 4 Brewery (Christian den 4´s Bryghus). Up left is The royal Shipyard Bremerholm and more east Nyhavn, new channel for ships and trade. In the middle of the model: Old square with City Hall, The Cathedral Vor Frue Kirke build 1316 as a gothic Cathedral. The Church with thousands of houses burned down under the large Copenhagen fire in october 1728. As neigbour Bispegården, University of Copenhagen founded 1479 and Sct Petri Church build about 1400. At left: Regensen, Rundetårn and Church of Trinity build 1630-42. Model in the Copenhagen City Museum.


Map of Copenhagen City:

Click on the map and use your zoom control and you see it in full screen size. Photo: Erik K Abrahamsen, 10. october 2012



Christianity take up the City –

rise of art, culture and science

Gammel Torv/Nytorv

Copenhagen City Court – Domhuset:




Domhuset on Gammeltorv/nytorv, Copenhagen. Photo: 5. sembre 2010

Our walk starts on the oldest Square Gammel/Nytorv, which has been the main marketplace since the foundation of the city. Law and order was enforced severely and the pillory and “Kag” stands permanently on the square until about 1768. Her stood the First City Hall, but was destroyed 1368 by invaders from Lybeck after siege and looting of the city. At the same time the invaders from Lybeck demolished The Castle of Absalon on the small island “Strandholmen” ( today named Slotsholmen) at the small sounds to Copenhagen.

Two later City Halls were build on The Square but borth burned down – the third in 1728 and the forth in 1795. The place and size of them are marked on the Square.

On Nytorv we stand face to face to a huge building Domhuset, Copenhagen City Court in style roman empire with  6 big columns, as a representation on the ruling power: absolute monarchy. It started as Copenhagen City Hall until 1906, when the present Town Hall took over. Architect was C.F. Hansen in 1799 – the same architect who builded the Second Christiansborg Palace and Chapel 1803-28 and the main Copenhagen Church “Vor Frue Kirke”  form 1811-29.

The large fire in Copenhagen 1795:

The forth Copenhagen town Hall burn down 1795 under the large Copenhagen Fire. More than 900 houses burned down to the ground – one/fifth of all the houses in Copenhagen .Paintng at Copenhagen City Museum. Photo: 2008

Caritas Fountain, 1604:

On Gammeltorv you will see one of the oldest and most beautiful fountains of the world: Caritas Fountain build by King Christian 4 in 1604. It was a gift to Copenhagen inhabitants for fresh water supply. The water was led from suroundings lakes and rivers north and east of the town: Sortedams-, Peblinge- and Sct. Jørgens Lakes through hollowing oak truks. Caritas means Charity, which is symbolised by the female sculpture on top of the fountain with her child on her breasts. On the birthday of the Danish Queen Margrethe 2 the 16. april four gold aples springs on top of the fountains water “cascades”.

Caritas Fountain, build 1604. Gammel Torv, Copenhagen. Photo: 16.april 2010 – 70 years birthday of Queen Margrethe of Denmark.You can see the aples of gold in the upper section of the fountain close to the sculpture.

Monument of Lutheran Reformation in Denmark 1536:

The memorial monument of the Lutheran Reformation in Denmark 1536. In the background Sct. Petri Church Spire and Bispegården (founded 1400) rebuilded 1732 after the large Copenhagen fire in 1728. Photo: 2008
Bispetorvet with Bispegården at left founded 1400 as 2. Town Hall untill 1479, when the building became Copenhagen University. After the Lutheran Reformation in 1536 it became Bispegården, the home for the Bishop of Copenhagen. Burnt down to the ground together with University Buildings and The Cathedral Vor Frue Kirke in the large Copenhagen fire in 1728. More than 1600 the houses in this  western area of Copenhagen city burned down. In the background The University building reduild after the English bombing of Copenhagen 2-6. september 1807. And in front at right Vor Frue Kirke rebuilded 1811-29 after the English bombing of Copenhagen. Photo:  27. December 2010
Bronze figure, one out of four bronze figures on the Reformation monument from 1943. It express the foundation of the Lutheran Reformation in Denmark 1536: Mankinds possibility of direct connection to Almighty God through Jesus Christ and his death on a cross, Baptism, the Sacrement(The Lords Supper) and the Sermon. Photo: 27. december 2010

Vor Frue Kirke, Copenhagen Cathedral build 1811-29:

Vor Frue Kirke, The main church of Copenhagen build 1811-29 by architect C. F. Hansen in style greek-roman classic. Photo: 2008

Interior of Vor Frue  Kirke:

The interior of Vor Frue Kirke. 12 sculpture by Jesus disciples (Apostles) in marble by Bertel Thorvaldsen(1770-1844) are placed in the main room. Photo: 2009

Sculpture of Jesus Christ:

The main sculpture of Jesus Christ at the alter and in front baptismal font by Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844). The sculpture of Jesus Christ is the most famous work by danish sculpture by Bertel Thorvaldsen, who worked in Rome, Italy from 1799 until 1838, when he returned to Copenhagen. Photo: 2009

University of Copenhagen, 1831-36:

University of Copenhagen. Founded 1479. Main build from 1831-36. Photo: 2008

Sct. Petri Church build  about 1400:

Sct.Petri Church. build in 1400 in style gotic. Its the oldest church in Copenhagen. Serious damaged under the large Copenhagen fire 1728. Survived the english bombing of Copenhagen over 4 days in september 1807, where Copenhagen Cathedral Vor Frue Kirke burned down to the ground. Photo: 2009
Sct. Petri Chapel, buriel place with 3 wings build 1681-83. Mainly for rich inhabitants of the german congregation i Copenhagen. Sct. Petri Church garden. Photo 2008

The bombing of Copenhagen 2. – 6. septembre 1807:

Bombing of Copenhagen by the British Navy 2-6. septembre 1807. At left in the picture you can see what is left of the tower of Cathedral Vor Frue Kirke, which was totaly destroyed. Back in the middle the tower of Sct. Petri Church, which survived the the bombing. Photo of a painting on Copenhagen City Museum (Købehavn Bymuseum). Photo: 3. may 2009

Christianity takes up Scandinavia:

The scandinavians – danes, swede and norwegians had in The Vikings Ages 7-800 extensive commercial relations with the christian empires in West-, South- and Easteurope. It was a religion and culture collision of big dimensions. Even with big  brutality of lootings and  conquests.

The Wikings came with their nordic god belief and experience in the foreign countries a different new religion based on One God, with grace and forgiveness, with a personal relation to af God of Trinity and with a future of eternal life.

In next centuries a lot of Viking Chiefs joins the christian faith by baptism in Normandie, France, England, Ireland and Northgermany. It happens often under conclusion of peace after extensive lootings.

The Vikings brought the christian faith to Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

But it happens slowly – took hundreds of years.

In 826 Denmark assigned  the archbishopric of Hamborg-Bremen concerning christian mission. A Monk Ansgar (801-865) came  the same year to Denmark with a newly baptised Danish throne pretender Harald Klak to propagate.

Ansgar 801-65. Missionary  in Denmark from 826. Later Archbishop. Statue at The Roman Catholic Church Sct. Ansgar, Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo: 2. may 2009

In 8-900 centuries a church were established in Hedeby by river Ejderen and  in 948 the german emperor Otto den Store ordered bisperics in Slesvig, Ribe and Aarhus under archbishopric Hamborg-Bremen.

Ansgar missioned not only in Denmark but traveled to Sweden, where he visited an old pagan worship place called Birka, close to todays Stockholm.

In Denmark excist the firt picture of Christ on the big granite stone called Jelligesten at Jelling Church in Jutland.  The Danish King Harald 1. Blåtand made the stone to memorial of his parents Gorm the Old an Tyre about 870.

King Harald 1. Blåtand were baptised by missionary Poppo in 965 and introduced christianity in Denmark under political pressure from the German emporer Otto den Store.

Norway were christianized by King Olav Haraldsson by his returning from England in 1015. With him came a big team of english missionaries.

Sweden were christianized as the last country in Scandinavia about 1100 when the last pagan cult- and worship place in Uppsala were closed.

Cristianity from England, France and Germany introduced wealth, art and science to The Nordic Countries of Europe:

In all Scandinavia churches of wood and stone were build decorated inside with treesculptures and  frescos. Inspired  of immigrated  monks and nuns social care  houses, retreats and hospitals were introduced in all big cities.

In Copenhagen a Monastery “Gråbrødrekloster” were established by monks at Gråbrødretorv in 1238. Monks of the order “Mendicant Friar” worked in the Monastery in the middle of Copenhagen until The Lutheran Reformation closed the work and the monastery down  in 1530.


Gråbrødre Torv: On this square was situated the monastery “Gråbrødrekloster” from 1238 until 1530. In the Restaurant Peder Oxe you can visit the cellars of the monastery. Photo. 2. may 2009
Gråbrødretorv. Today is the square a popular meeting place with lots or in- and outdoors restaurants. Photo: 2. may 2009


Rebuild as a gotic church in 1469 from a ealier church build in 1300 century as part of an older monastry  of Sct. Augustin.






Helliåndskirken. Church of the Holy Spirit. At left the western wing of Helligåndsklosteret (Monastery of the Holy Spirit) established 1459. Photo: 2. may 2009
Helligåndskirken,the Church of the Holy Spirit. In front baptismal font in marble by sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844). Two Paintings under the organ: The Annunciation of the virgin Mary, Lukas 1, 30-33 New testament. Photo: 29. december 2010
Helligåndskirken, the Church of the Holy Spirit. Rebuild 1732 after the large Copenhagen fire had destroyed large parts of the church in 1728. The alter and the pulpit is from Copenhagen Castle renovated by King Frederik 4 (1699-1730) in 1724-30. This Copenhagen Castle from 1370 was demolished in 1731 by King Christian 6 (1730-46) and he began to build the 1. Christiansborg Palace in style baroque/rococo 1735-46. Photo: 29. december 2010

In 1296 a Helligåndshouse were build by the Bishop of Roskilde, who were the Ruler of Copenhagen. In 1419 King Erik 7. of Pommern became Ruler of Copenhagen and gave Helligåndhuset as a gift to a catholic monk- order “Duebrødrene” for nursing. In 1459 a Monastry Helligåndsklosteret were established.  The western wing of this monastery are preserved until today as one of the oldest building in Copenhagen. Today  its a book- and expedition place. You can visit it as neigbour to Helligåndskirken.

The garden of Helligåndskirken. In the background the western wing for nursing of the former Monastery of The Holy Spirit. Photot: 2. may 2009
Helligåndskirken. The main entrance door with wood carving with motive Johannes baptised Jesus and with following undertext: – no-one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.” Photo: 2. may 2009





Amager Torv. At left the fountain “Storkespringvandet” and in the background the tower of Nicolai Church.The burning tower under the fire in 1795 collapsed and set all neighboring houses in fire. Photo: 5. september 2010

As neighbour to Helligåndskirken is“Strøget”, the main shopping walkingstreet and Amager Square, Amagertorv. Since 1300 it has been a marketplace with articles: fish, fruits, vegetables, butter, meat, cheese, chicken and eggs. In 16-1800 plenty of farmers from the island Amager came here to sell their goods.

The large Copenhagen fire 5.-7. june 1795 destroyed all the beautiful renaissance houses on south part of Amager Torv. The fire started at the Dockyard at Gammelholm and spread to the tower of Nicolai Church, which collapsed and set on fire the neigboring houses at Højbro Plads, Gammel strand, south Amagertorv to Gammeltorv, where the fourth The Town Hall and the Vajsen Hous were set on fire. 941 houses and townfarms were destroyed.

Storkespringvandet. Amager Torv. The red building in the background is Borgmestergården build 1616. 
Amagertorv with Storkespringvandet in front. The red building is the unique Borgmestergården, build by Mayor Mathias Hansen in 1616. This building survived the 2 large Copenhagen fires in 1728 and 1795. The square ground of granite colored stones is designed by artist Bjørn Nørgaard. Photo: 5. september 2010

We continue our walk to Købmagergade, another main shopping walkstreet. Here we visit a unique building complex from 1600.

Rundetårn build together with Trinitatis Church and student hall of residence Regensen build by King Christian 4  from 1637 to 1656

Rundetårn and Trinitatiskirken. At left Regensen seen from Store Kannikestræde. Photo: May 2009

The tower is a cylinder 15 meter in diameter and 36 meter tall. Its build by small Holland bricks named “mopper”. Rundetårn is build as a Observatorium to the new science founded by the famous astromer Tycho Brahe. Under the roof of the Church of Trinitatis a University Library were founded.

Rundetårn. The picture puzzle by King Christian 4th. on the wall of the tower. Photo: 5. septembre 2010

On the outside wall of the cylinder of Rundetårn King Christian 4 created  this decoration, a picture puzzle: ” Keep a check on doctrines (True christian doctrines) and justice (Justiam= a golden sword), LORD (JHVH), in the heart of coronated King Christian 4th.” 1642.

Entrance to Rundetårn. Photo: 2009

Trinitatis Church, build 1637-56:

The style is inspired of barock, rich decorated with the Alter from 1731.

The large Copenhagen fire in 1728 destroyed the original decoration, but the church survived the bombardement of the English Navy  over 4 days 2. – 6. september 1807. The rockets landed close in the quarter surrounded of the church. Regensen was destroyed and burned down to the ground in the large fire in 1728 – together with thousands of houses in the quarters from Royal Garden through Regensen to Vor Frue Church, a magnificent Gotic Church build 1316, which the fire destroyed totally.

Trinitatis Church from inside. Photo: may 2009

We finished our walk here close to Royal Garden, Kongens Have:

Corner of street Åbenrå at left and Landemærket at right. Houses build after the large Copenhagen fire in oktober 1728. This quarter was totally destroyed under the fire. Entrance of Rosenborg Royal Garden in the back of the picture.  Foto: may 2009


Map of Copenhagen City:

Click on the map and use your zoom control and you can see it in full screen soze. Photo: Erik k Abrahamsen, 10. october 2012



Copyright text and photos Erik K Abrahamsen 2010

All rights reserved


København før og nu – og aldrig, redaktion og billedtekster Bo Bramsen, Bind 3 Strøget og Gammel Strand af Jan Møller, Palle Fogtdal, København 1988

Købehavn før og nu – og aldrig, redaktion og billedtekster Bo Bramsen, Bind 4 Nord for Strøget af Allan Tønnesen, Palle Fogtdal, København 1988

Copenhagen, 19. december 2010

Have a nice tour.



Updated 11. october 2012

For read more of my articles about different subjects go to my other homepage tvndk.wordpress.com Erik K Abrahamsen Blog, among others 4 articles:

Oplev Københavns 1000 årige historie på gåtur

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