The little-known 1,000-year-old church

Religious

Sankt Ibs Kirke - Roskilde
Jakob Fälling
 

A quiet and quaint church is one of Denmark’s oldest stone buildings and is full of good stories. St. Ib’s Church is open to all.

Af Jakob Fälling

Nestled between single-family homes and apartment buildings, a gray and rather anonymous building stands in a large garden full of trees. 

If you venture inside, you’ll discover the nearly 1,000-year-old St. Ib’s Church. The church was built with blocks of limestone, which was formed by the calcium-rich springs that were once so common in Roskilde. The blocks could be cut with a saw or knife while they were wet, but once dry, they became the porous blocks seen in many of the city’s churches today.

Passersby are welcome to enter the churchyard and church building. Only the nave of the church remains standing today, as the chancel, tower and church porch were demolished in the course of history.

Two entrances – one for men and one for women – and a fresco painting adorn the otherwise sparse room with a pronounced beam ceiling. 

St. Ib’s Church was originally to be demolished in 1578 by order of the Danish king during the Reformation. Ultimately, however, the church was spared due to local protests. 

Since then, it was used as the field hospital for Spanish soldiers after the Napoleonic Wars for a few years beginning in 1808. 

In 1815, it was taken over by a merchant who used the church as a warehouse. In 1884, the building was obtained by the local association of churches and a renovation process soon commenced. The floor dates back to the renovation in 1922.

Facts

  • The frescoes in the church, which include an image of Christ as judge of the world, have been dated to approximately 1200.
  • Traces of a wooden church that preceded the limestone church have been discovered on the site.
  • The church was built between 1100 and 1150, and is a fine example of a Romanesque church.
  • The church room is not believed to have had any pews or seating besides the stone benches that still line the walls of the church today.

Surroundings

Roskilde Harbor and the Viking Ship Museum are within walking distance. From the beginning, the church was probably a parish church for Roskilde’s then port of call, Vindeboderne.

Roskilde City Park is located next to St. Ib’s Church. The 100-year-old landscaped garden is designed according to English garden traditions.

Not far from St. Ib’s Church is Roskilde Monastery, a beautiful building originally erected in 1536 and later renovated in 1907.

Further to the east is the Østre Cemetery Crematory and Chapel, designed by Henning Larsen in 1961.