Grundtvigs Church: Nordic church in a class of its own
There is almost a supernatural serenity and beauty in the magnificent church that is built of a single material: the pale yellow brick made of Danish clay.
Af Eva Ørum
Most are first struck by the light on passing through the dark porch and entering the enormous church. The beautiful inflow of light at the alter creates a dynamic sense of depth, but the very nature of the light is created by the millions of bricks that make up the columns, walls and vaults of the space.
Each stone is hand ground
Hands are what ground and placed every single brick and layer of mortar –executed with a precision that leave today’s bricklayers awestruck. It is also said that the bricklayers were paid for 150 bricks per day, compared to the usual 1,200 – demonstrating the precision of the work required.
Each brick was ground by hand to perfection – and while that may seem a bit over the top, the result is the supernatural softness you meet everywhere you look. Run your hands over a column or part of a wall and you can feel it clearly.
First father, then son
The church took 19 years to build, and was erected as a memorial for the renowned Danish author, theologian
and founder of the Danish folk high school movement, N.F.S. Grundtvig. Everything is made by hand, and every detail inspected, first by architect P.V. Jensen-Klint, who designed the church, and then by his son, Kaare Klint, who took over the work of completing the church after his father’s death in 1930.
Grundtvig’s Church is inspired by both the Gothic-style village church of the Middle Ages and the enormous European cathedrals, with their soaring columns, vaults and natural light. Only here, there is no extra ornamentation, no finery. Everything is shaped by the soft, pale brick which, in combination with the natural light and the chairs of wood and paper weave, create a distinctive simplicity, pure Nordic minimalism on a scale you won’t find anywhere else.
The church is nestled in a residential neighborhood named “Bjerget” (the mountain). The area is an extension of Grundtvig’s Church and has a uniquely timeless air about it.
Across from the church is the Dance Chapel, which served until just a few years ago as an ordinary chapel, but which now houses social and cultural projects for children and teens, where the focus is on dance. All performances are open to the public.
Bispebjerg Cemetery is both a park and a cemetery. It is bisected by an avenue lined with cherry trees that draws visitors by the thousands when the trees are in bloom in the spring. If you want to enjoy the serenity and the beauty of the flowering trees, it is best to visit in the early morning.