Tømmerby Church, Denmark

10:07:00 AM

Drive down any winding country road in Denmark and you will be guaranteed to see two things dotting the countryside...windmills and churches.  Unlike churches in the US however, Danish churches have become more popular tourist attractions than houses of worship.  Even so, the Danish people are proud of their churches and are very happy to invite you in for a visit.

I visited Tømmerby Church with my daughter and mother-in-law on an overcast and blustery day....very usual for a September afternoon in Denmark.

Tømmerby Church, built between 1125-1175, is a perfect example of Romanesque architecture.  The original church was built of granite ashlars and is comprised of an apse, chancel, and nave.  The white tower and porch were added later, around 1500, and the bell dates from the late 1400's.  The orange tiled roof was added in 1800, before then it was a lead roof.

On the apse of the church are 6 peculiar reliefs.  Reliefs were meant to tell stories and show a glimpse into the people's religious beliefs at the time.  Over the centuries many of the meanings have unfortunately been lost.  The two male heads you see on either side of the window are thought to be the founders of the church.

Below the man on the left is a relief of a lion devouring a man's head.  Below that is a relief of a hunter with his dog, a deer being chased by a dog, and lastly at the bottom left a rooster with a dragon's body.  This last relief is also knows as the basilisk, which comes from the Greek word basileus, which means king.  It was used as a symbol for sin and evil in early Christianity.

Fun Fact: this basilisk is featured on the 100 Danish Kroner issued in 2002.

We entered the church through the remaining north door (which was also the door the women entered through).  Wasn't my daughter cute back then?

The interior of the church is modest with bare stone walls painted white.  The altar dates back from the early 1600's is noteworthy for it's four pillars and dates back from the early 1600's.  The lead crucifix is from a gravestone from around 1700.

The pulpit is also from the same time period and is a copy of the pulpit from the church in Thisted (which we have also toured).

The organ is (disappointingly) new, it was added in 1990.

What I found most interesting in the church is this gravestone dating from the 1200's.  The stone is crudely cruciform in shape.  Near the base of the gravestone is a man's head and above this is an outstretched arm.  A cross is etched into the hand, and between thumb and forefinger shows is a round disc, which many believe is a wafer. On the arm is written the word rex, and to the right of the arm are the words dextera dei, which translate to Right hand of God.

Thank you for coming on this little tour with me!  Don't forget to "like" my Facebook page to keep up to date on all my postings.  

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  1. Beautiful shots! I can't believe how tiny Emma was back then! They grow up so fast...


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