Roskilde Cathedral (Roskilde Domkirke) is one of the most famous churches in Denmark. The cathedral is the burial site for the Danish monarchs and is known as the church in the world where most kings and queens are buried. Since 1995, it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
These 7 LEGO models show the history of Roskilde Cathedral during the last 1000 years. The 7 LEGO models are built in scale 1:200.
Roskilde Cathedral, year 980
According to the legends, Roskilde was founded by the legendary King Roar back in the 6th century. The name Roskilde means Roar’s spring. In the beginning the village had no church because Denmark was still pagan.
Around year 965, the Danish king Harald Bluetooth (Harald Blåtand) converted to Christianity. When Roskilde became the new capital of Denmark, there should of course be built a church in the town.
Around year 980, Harald Bluetooth built a small wooden church on the site where Roskilde Cathedral is today. The wooden church was named Trinity Church, dedicated to the Holy Trinity. When Harald Bluetooth died around year 986, he was buried in the church. So did his son Sweyn Forkbeard (Svend Tveskæg), who died in year 1014.
Around year 1020, Roskilde became the seat of the Bishop of Roskilde and the church became a cathedral.
No one knows exactly how the wooden church has been like. Therefore, I had to use a some imagination when I built the LEGO model.
Roskilde Cathedral, year 1080
After the church had been recognized as a cathedral, it was decided to replace the small wooden church with a larger travertine church. It was completed by Bishop Svend Nordmand around 1080.
The Danish king Svend Estridsen was buried in the church when he died in 1074.
The travertine church was built in Romanesque style, which was the dominant style in Europe in the early Middle Ages.
Roskilde Cathedral, year 1230
In 1160, the art of firing bricks was brought to Denmark by monks from the south, and the new material was employed. Around year 1170 Bishop Absalon decided to build a new, Romanesque brick cathedral around the existing one, allowing services to continue during construction. In 1191, Absalon's successor, Peder Sunesen, embracing the new French Gothic style, made significant changes to the plans.
The choir was completed and inaugurated in 1225, allowing services to begin there.
Some of the stones from the old travertine church were used to build a Gothic arch that connected the cathedral with the bishop's palace. The arch was built around year 1200. It is still standing today and connects the cathedral with the current Roskilde Palace from the 18th century.
Roskilde Cathedral, year 1280
After year 1230 the front of the old travertine church was now demolished to make way for the construction of the rest of the brick cathedral. Around year 1280, the brick cathedral finally was completed, but only with one tower. The cathedral was built so it looked like a cross seen from above. However, the cathedral already had got its first extension: Kapitelhuset. The construction of the last tower was slowed by a fire in 1282.
Roskilde Cathedral, year 1465
Around year 1400, both towers were completed.
When Queen Margrethe I died in 1412, she was buried in her family's chapel at Sorø Klosterkirke. But the following year Bishop Peder Jensen Lodehat, who had been the queen's chancellor and religious advisor, brought her body to Roskilde Cathedral. Here her grave was given a central position in the church. Above her grave the Margrete-Spire was built, named after her. When King Christopher III died in 1448, he was also buried in Roskilde Cathedral. Around year 1460 King Christian I built the Chapel of the Magi, where he was buried in 1481. Since the 15th century, the cathedral has been the main burial site for Danish monarchs.
The Chapel of the Magi, Oluf Mortensen's porch and all the other additions from the 15th century were all built in Gothic style like the rest cathedral.
Roskilde Cathedral, year 1635
During the Middle Ages, the cathedral was a Catholic church. But after the Danish Reformation in 1536 all Danish churches including Roskilde Cathedral became Evangelical Lutheran. However, this did not change the exterior appearance of the cathedral.
But the exterior appearance of the cathedral was changed a lot during the reign of King Christian IV (1588-1648). The Gothic style had become out of fashion and was replaced by the Renaissance style. Around year 1635 the church got its two iconic spires, which today is one of Roskilde's landmarks. And around the same time, the old entrance portal was replaced by a new Renaissance entrance portal. Christian IV also built a large burial chapel in Renaissance style, where he was buried in the 1648.
Roskilde Cathedral, year 2016
Roskilde Cathedral function as a burial site for the Danish kings have meant that there have been built many additions in various styles.
In the period 1774-1825 Frederik V’s burial chapel was built in neo-classical style.
In 1871, the entrance portal was replaced with one that matched the rest of the cathedral, while the old Renaissance portal was donated to the Church of Holmen in Copenhagen.
In the period 1919-1924 Christian IX’s burial chapel was built in neo-Byzantine style.King Frederik IX loved life at sea. Therefore he wanted to be buried outside the cathedral with view over Roskilde Fjord. Therefore, a burial chapel for him was built outside the church in 1985. This is the newest addition of the cathedral.
The current Roskilde Cathedral appears as mixture of many different styles built in the period 1170-1985 in Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Neoclassicism and even Byzantine style. Since 1995, Roskilde Cathedral has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.