Any trip to Copenhagen will inevitably include a stroll along Stroget street. Flanked by Nyhavn and Kongens Nytorv at one end and Tivoli Gardens and City Hall at the other, it’s a popular and crowded stretch. There’s an abundance of local artists plying their craft, tourists, shopping, cafes, eateries, architecture, squares, fountains, and on and on. Needless to say, busy it is.
As the Stroget is one of the top draws in Copenhagen, it is understandable to want to spend some time exploring it. It is also easy to get caught up in it all and to just walk the main stretch end to end and thinking you’ll see it all. But as the inquisitive traveler knows, finding the hidden gems normally requires a small detour off the main path. An accidental, unplanned detour? No, in my opinion, that is pure luck; meaning a small low percentage probability which only a handful of tourists will luck into. A well researched and planned detour beforehand? Now that’s optimization of itinerary and ensuring you easily uncover the gems.
A Gem Uncovered
One such gem that I would like to recommend in downtown Copenhagen is the Lutheran church, Church of Our Lady. The nice thing about this church is that it is literally just a one minute walk off from the main Stroget path. Specifically, it’s on a small street named Norregade. If you are coming from Tivoli gardens and heading east, once you hit Gammeltorv Square, you will see Norregade on your left. Take that left and walk straight up until you reach a building on your right hand side with six columns.
Facing the cathedral, you will see how the white columns dominate the facade as well as this section of Norregade street. The facade of the Church of Our Lady is a typical representative of the Neo-classical architectural style.
Walk up the steps and take a good look at the large statues bookending the columns. They are the statues of Moses and David. I don’t have them in the picture above, but they give an inkling of what’s to come inside the Church.
Simple and Stunningly Beautiful
Upon entering the church, at first glimpse it seems interesting, even intriguing. There’s a couple items to examine at the church’s Narthex area. But your attention will be pulled towards the interior, as it should be! As you shift your focus inward and walk slowly into the church, it becomes surprisingly remarkable. The whiteness of it all, the clean lines, the large statues lining the walls, and …. that remarkable altar area – it’s all rather striking. You now realize that the interior betrays what the facade was presenting to us with it’s Neo-classical design. You were expecting an unemotional classical Greek or Roman interior, but instead, you become awestruck and breathless by the simple, clean, bright and emotionally beautiful interior.
Take a seat in one of the back rows and slowly take it all in. As the organ music is being played (hopefully), admire the marble statues and the altar area from this distance. Most likely your eyes will initially be attracted to the altar area. Remember, this is a Lutheran church. Here, unlike Catholic churches where you see a crucifix at the altar, you instead see a resurrected Jesus standing above the altar, with outstretched arms inviting the visitor. Immediately after admiring the Jesus statue, you will be drawn to the beautiful angelic font in the chancel. Both of these masterpieces demand an up close examination.
The Nave’s Twelve Statues
Once you have recovered your breath from looking at the altar pieces, then you will be left breathless once more by the dozen statues of the apostles lining the nave. Among these marble statues, we have St Paul replacing Judas Iskariot.
These statues, all masterpieces, were made by the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen. Take the time to appreciate them and you’ll notice the details in their poses and how much it really characterizes the nature of the apostles themselves. Without being intrusive nor commanding attention away from the altar area, they do a great job of supplementing the altar’s masterpieces.
There is something to be said for the power that simplicity can invoke. Visit Copenhagen’s Church of Our Lady and you will understand.
Need to Know
If you need a serene place to have some respite from walking the nearby busy area of Stroget, then plan on adding Church of Our Lady to your itinerary – I highly recommend it. Here are some facts for your research:
- Official website: http://www.domkirken.dk/english
- Address: Nørregade 8, 1165 København
- Free to enter
- Opening hours: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
- On Sundays, it is closed from 9:30 a.m. -11:30 a.m. for church services
- On Saturdays it is often closed in the summer for weddings
- There is no sightseeing allowed during service
- Night visits are available on Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays from 8 p.m. – 11:45 p.m.
- It is NOT a Catholic church, but a Lutheran church
- It is the Cathedral of Copenhagan and is also the National Cathedral of Denmark
Recommendation for your plan
My suggestion would be to add the Church of Our Lady to the middle or end of a long visit to downtown Copenhagen. This will allow for some rest for your weary feet and maybe from the weather.
Directly opposite the church is the small square named Bispetorvet. In this square is a column with many reliefs and inscriptions commemorating the Reformation of Denmark.