Near the center of Odder lies the town's parish church, which dates back to the mid-12th century and stands as the unequivocally oldest building in the town.
One of Denmark's old village churches
Just like many other Danish village churches, Odder Church was built in the 12th century when the wooden churches of the Norse religion and the Viking Age were replaced by the almost everlasting stone churches inspired by southern architecture. Odder Church was constructed in Romanesque style, the earliest architectural style among the current Danish churches. The church was built using ashlar stones, with more than 1,200 types of stones manually dragged and hewn for its construction. In other words, constructing such a building required a tremendous effort.
Odder Church was erected at a site where there was once a busy ford across the Odder Stream. It was located a few hundred meters from the former village, situated where the Town Square stands today. Since then, Odder has expanded significantly in size, and the church has been expanded several times. The church remains active today as the parish church of the town and the main church in the Odder Provsti (pastorate).
The landowner's church
Originally belonging to the Danish king, Odder Church was handed over in 1661 when Denmark had to cede Scania after a lost war, resulting in Danes relinquishing land. In compensation, the Danish prime minister, Joachim Gersdorff, was granted a considerable amount of land around Odder, including local manors and Odder Church itself. His heirs left a significant mark on the Odder area. One of them was Jens Rodsteen of Rodsteenseje, who inherited the church, keeping it within the Rodsteenseje family for the next 200 years. His influence is still evident in the church as in 1694, he expanded the church with a transept, serving as his family's burial chapel. Here, he and his wife, Sofie Gersdorff, lie buried in a crypt hidden by a wooden trapdoor. A large, distinguished tomb adorned with Greek sea gods, dolphins, and the couple's busts honor their memory in the church space. Even at that time, it was highly unusual to depict gods of other religions in Christian churches.
The crypt is approximately four meters high and wide. In ancient times, there was a wooden box atop one of the coffins with a hole in the top. Inside were two small dried-up piglets. This might seem bizarre but stems from the family's superstition. Around the family's manors, one could also find dried-up animal parts scattered. These were not to be removed; otherwise, it was believed that misfortune would befall the family. It was St. St. Blicher's father, Pastor Niels Blicher, who, to his great surprise, found the mummified piglets when he was the only one allowed to peer into the crypt.
In total, there are 22 coffins from the family in the crypt: 13 adults and 9 children.
It wasn't until the early 1900s that the church became self-owned.
About Odder Church
Odder Church today appears as a beautiful, whitewashed Romanesque church. It consists of the original choir and nave from the 12th century, along with a late medieval porch and a robust tower.
The first thing one encounters is a distinguished brick portal from the 15th century at the entrance to the churchyard. Inside the church, fragments of 14th-century frescoes can be seen, and the church's original Romanesque baptismal font with traces of paint and gold also holds historical value.
The church's original golden altarpiece now stands at the National Museum. It was replaced in 1640 by a beautifully carved altarpiece crafted by one of the finest sculptors of that time.
The pulpit dates back to around 1600 with original paintings.
Would you like to visit Odder Church?
Odder Church is open when the church staff is present at the churchyard, typically on weekdays during office hours. The church is not accessible during religious services, ceremonies, and other church-related events unless you are participating in them.
More historical attractions
Kystlandet offers many exciting historical attractions, from ancient times to industrial history, from museums to architectural marvels and attractions in nature. On this page, you can find inspiration for historically intriguing experiences near Horsens, Odder, and Juelsminde.