Aarhus – The Church of our Lady

The exterior of the rather glorious Church of our Lady doesn’t initially suggest just how old the building, or at least parts of it, is. The main part of the church dates from the twelfth century and it was originally a Benedictine monastery.

The church’s interior is large and open, with numerous quite substantial tablets in the walls, mostly dating to the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. The organ is quite recent, having been installed in 1962. The altar is from the 1520s in the baroque gothic style.

One of the highlights of the church is though the crypt, which has numerous different claims, including being the oldest stone structure in Denmark, the oldest church in the city and the oldest arched space in Scandinavia. I’m unsure of the veracity of these claims, but it is likely that this was the first church in the city.

When the main cathedral was built this church was no longer needed and was given to the Benedictine monks in the twelfth century. The existence of the crypt was eventually forgotten about until the 1950s when it was discovered by chance by gardeners (doing what I’m not quite sure) and after a large archaeological dig it was excavated and restored.

The church ceased to be a priory in the sixteenth century, following the Danish Reformation, but the buildings were mostly retained. The cloisters can still be visited and some of the original arched stonework has remained in situ.