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04.11.2020

Castle Church Christiansborg, Copenhagen

Castle Church Christiansborg - Church on Slotsholmen in Copenhagen. The church belongs to those parts of the castle Kristiansborg, which belong to the Royal House. It is used for church ceremonies for members of the royal family, mainly for baptism, confirmation and castrum doloris. In addition, it is used by Folketinget for worship at the opening of Folketinget.

The original castle church was built 1738 - 42 during the construction of the first Christiansborg castle. It was lost in a fire in Christiansborg in 1794. Most of the outer walls and partitions survived the fire and recycled in the present church.

In its present form, the castle church was built in 1813 - 26 years in the style of classicism by architect KF Hansen. This is the last thing left of the second castle Kristiansborg; the rest was lost in the fire in 1884.

The church burned down in 1992 after an emergency rocket hit during the carnival. After reconstruction and restoration, the church was opened in 1997.

Already in the castle of Bishop Absalon, there was probably a chapel. During the excavations of the castle in 1907, archaeologists discovered fragments of buildings made of gneiss, granite and sandstone, which may have originated from the castle chapel and are still on display today in excavations near Christiansborg.

There was also a prayer house in the neighboring Copenhagen castle, where regular services were held. However, larger church ceremonies, such as the coronation and royal wedding, were usually held not here, but in the Church of Our Lady.

King Christian II was particularly concerned about the interior design of the castle church and carried out a major reconstruction of the church. As part of this project, he purchased an outstanding five-winged altar in late Gothic style, made in Antwerp around 1520.

In connection with the rebuilding of the Copenhagen Castle by King Frederick IV in 1720-29, the castle church was completely rebuilt. A new organ, a new font and a huge baroque marble altar were purchased for the new church. The old altar of Christian II was donated in 1728 to the Sortebrodre Church in Vyborg, where it still stands. Artist Hendrik Krok performed a tabernacle image of the Ascension of Christ and painted the ceiling with the image of Doomsday.

Construction of the new church was completed in 1728. Already in 1731, it was demolished along with the rest of Copenhagen Castle to make way for the first Christiansborg Castle. The interior was transferred to several churches in Copenhagen, including a large marble altar, which was transferred to the Church of the Holy Spirit, where it stands to this day.

In the new magnificent castle Christiansborg, built by King Christian VI of Pietists, there was also to be a castle church. When planning the construction for a long time it was believed that the church should be located in the main building of the castle itself. In the end, however, the church was placed in a separate building, which was connected to the castle by a passage.

Architect Nikolai Eigtved was responsible for the interior design of the new church, which was built in 1738 - 1742 in the Rococo style. Its structure was built on the model of the castle church in Versailles, and otherwise the same as in the current castle church. The church hall had two chairs supported by columns of Norwegian and Italian marble. The king's chair was placed on one short wall on another pulpit. Right in front of the royal throne on the opposite short wall were an altar and pulpit, and above them - the organ. The painting of Hendrick Crock with the image of Doomsday, which hung on the ceiling of the new church, was transferred from the old castle church.

The new castle church was consecrated at a service on Sunday November 27, 1740, the day after the royal family moved to the first Christiansborg. After that, the castle church was used for regular services for many residents of the castle, as well as for larger ceremonies accompanying anniversaries and events in the royal house.

After Kristiansborg's reconstruction, the question of placing the castle church in the main building of the castle was raised again, and the ruins of the old castle church were to be demolished. However, eventually, the castle church was rebuilt on the site of the previous church using most of the outer walls and partitions.

Architect K.F. Hansen was responsible for the reconstruction and converted the building remaining from the previous church by simple means into a neoclassical building with a central church room covered by a dome. Work began in 1813, and construction of the church was completed in 1826 - two years before the castle. The new castle church was consecrated on May 14, 1826 as part of the celebration of the 1000th anniversary of Christianity in Denmark.

Although the royal family never moved to another Christiansborg and used the large castle only for representation, the castle church was widely used - both as an everyday church for court officials and for special events in the royal family. A few days after the inauguration of Prince Frederick, the church was confirmed. In 1828 he married Princess Wilhelmina, Frederick VI's daughter, an event that also led to the opening of the castle itself.

The castle church escaped destruction in the second fire of Christiansborg in 1884, when it was stopped in the connecting building between the castle and the church. Thus, it is the only surviving part of the building from CF Hansens Christiansborg.

Despite the fire of 1884, which left the castle itself in ruins, the castle church continued to function as a courtyard. It was and still is used for church services for members of the royal family.

Until 1926, the castle church also functioned as a church for court officials, which also included actors of the Royal Theatre and employees of the Art Museum, National Museum, Rosenborg and Royal Library. In 1935, the actual parish was established for the castle church, which included Slotsholmen, Tivoli, Copenhagen City Hall and Copenhagen Police Station. The parish was closed in 1964. 

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