Church of Our Savior (Vor Frelsers Kirke)
With its location on the Square, this church is the absolute center of Horsens from which the city has developed. It is also the oldest building in the town and currently serves as an active parish church with preserved furnishings of historical and artistic value.
The history of Our Savior's Church
Our Savior's Church is beautifully located on the Town Square in Horsens, amidst the city's bustling trade life, which has seen market activities for many centuries. It is one of the country's most beautiful Baroque churches but bears the imprint of various historical periods. Originally, the church was constructed by King Valdemar the Victorious. Construction began around 1225 and lasted approximately 30 years. The church was built using bricks, which were an unusual and costly material at that time, indicating the building's significance. Before this, bricks were only used in a few other royal constructions. It is believed that there was a wooden church on the site before this time, just as the Square itself existed prior to the church's construction.
The king owned the church until 1351 when it was transferred to the Knights Hospitaller, who already owned Our Lady's Monastery and the Monastery Church, located a few hundred meters from Our Savior's Church. In the late Middle Ages, Protestantism gradually gained power in society as the Reformation reached Denmark, leading to the expulsion of the monks from the town in 1532.
The church has undergone several restorations over the centuries, in the 15th, 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. In 1935-36, efforts were made to restore the church to its original medieval form. Due to the numerous changes over time, it can be challenging to distinguish between what is old and what is new. However, some original parts of the church are still visible.
For instance, near the west portal, an entrance that likely served as the king's private entrance. The portal shows visible signs of fire damage from the catastrophic fire in 1544, which nearly destroyed the entire town of Horsens. Only the churches survived from the time before the fire.
In 2018, the church was targeted in an arson attack, resulting in the loss of invaluable church art. This included the historic pulpit from the 17th century, one of the most significant Renaissance artworks in Denmark and a pinnacle of Danish woodcarving art. Consequently, the church underwent a complete interior renovation and reopened in 2020.
Step inside the church
The church is open during the daytime, and you are welcome to step inside and admire the beautiful church interior when there are no services, weddings, funerals, or similar events taking place. Please be respectful of the church's function and refrain from making noise. Inside the church, you can observe a number of elegant memorials and gravestones belonging to the city's affluent citizens who were wealthy enough to be buried within the church itself. As you explore the church, you will notice how distinctly it reflects centuries of development and change.
Is Our Savior's Church the oldest building in Horsens?
Our Savior's Church is believed to date back to 1225, making it the oldest building in the city. At least, if we are talking about buildings originally constructed within Horsens. Horsens has expanded beyond its original boundaries, incorporating several villages that were once located outside the city limits. Among these villages were Tyrsted and Torsted. Both Tyrsted Church and Torsted Church were constructed in the 1100s and are therefore older.