History (EN)

The Frederiks Church

'The Marble Church'

During the 17th and 18th centuries, Copenhagen outgrew its medieval boundaries and the city expanded further to the north. During this time, King Christian IV was responsible for the building of ( among other things) Rosenborg Castle, The Stock Exchange, the Round Tower and the characteristic naval housing complex Nyboder, all of which must be considered cultaral landmarks of Copenhagen. East of this area plans for further urban devalopment followed during the reign of King Frederik V.
He put the Danish architect Nicolai Eigtved in charge of the planning of the Frederikstown, a grand and fashionable quarter where a great number of imposing masions were to be built, including what later became the royal residence: Amalienborg.
The centre-point of the Frederikstown was to be a church built in honour of the royal family's 300 years reign. This church was drawn by Eigtved in 1740 and in 1749, King Frederik laid the foundation stone himself amid great ceremony. After the death of Eigtved in 1754 the plans for the church underwent considerable change at the hands of the French architect Nicolas Henri Jardin. Originally, the construction of the church was to be effected in Norwegian marble. This, however, proved so costly that in 1770, Prime Minister Struensee ordered the project stopped. Only two years later, however, Struensee was executed and after this time various attempts were made to recommence the building, none of them successful. Thus for one century, the church square contained nothing but a rather picturesque ruin until N.F.S. Grundvig, the Danish pastor and prolific poet (originator of the National High School) and others agitated for the completion of the edifice. These efforts were successful largely due to the financial aid of C.F. Tietgen, a Wealthy and influential businessman who approached the architect professor Meldahl and engaged him to carry out the completion of the church. It was finally consecrated on 19. August 1894.
Although the church is built mainly of Norwegian marble, the upper parts are constructed from a number of materials, including Danish Faxe marble.
The circular nave is app. 46 metres high (app. 150 feet) and 12 pillars carry the dome which has a diameter of 31 metres (app. 100 feet). This places it among the largest of its kind in Europe. By 1894 all the large fittings  - with the exeption of the font  -  had been mad after model drawings by Meldahl. The frescoes inside the dome represent the Apostles and were created by the painter Chresten Overgaard after preliminary drawings by the colleague Henrik Olrik. Below the dome 12 symbolic medallions can be seen. Flanking the baroque altar are motives from the 42nd Psalm. The church has two baptismal fonts,  the original by Stefan Sinding (now situated in the Church Exhibition) and another designed by Joachim Skovgaard in 1925 (situated the the choir). In addition to the contemporary 'SwanOrgan' (no longer in use) the church has a modern Marcussen organ from 1963.
Other notable details are: the German woodcarving in the fron chapel, depicting the Deposition, the German ivory cross ind the choir and the commemorative relief of C.F. Tietgen and his wife from 1920 (by Niels Skovgaard).
The church is surrounded by many statues. Those at street level depict a number of well-known figures from the Danish church; for example Søren Kierkegaard, the great Danish philosopher and author; Ansgar 'The Apostle of Denmark' ; and principal Danish hymn writers such as Kingo, Brorson and Grundtvig. The statues on the roof terrace are of important figures from church history in general and span from Moses to Martin Luther.
The function of the Marble Church is that of a regular parish church and it is part of the Danish State Church, namely an Evangelical-Lutheran church. Althoug its official name is the Frederik's Church, among Copenhageners it always bears the name connecte with its most prominent feature:
the Marble Church.