Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Copenhagen - Marble Church

Date of visit: 15th October 2015

Locals called the Marble Church, which is popular among the tourist as Frederik's Church. It is an Evangelical Lutheran church and forms the focal point of the Frederiksstaden district as it is located due west of Amalienborg Palace. The church was designed by the architect Nicolai Eigtved in 1740 and was along with the rest of other development in Frederiksstaden, intended to commemorate the 300 years jubilee of the first coronation of a member of the House of Oldenburg.

Frederick's Church has the largest church dome in Scandinavia with a span of 31m. The dome rests on 12 columns, said to be inspired from St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. The foundation stone was set by king Frederick V on October 31, 1749, but the construction was slowed by budget cuts and the death of the Architect in 1754. In 1770, the original plans for the church were totally abandoned by Johann Friedrich Struensee. The church was left incomplete and, in spite of several initiatives to complete it, stood as a ruin for nearly 150 years.

In 1874, Andreas Frederik Krieger, Denmark's Finance Minister at the time, sold the ruins of the uncompleted church and the church square to Carl Frederik Tietgen for 100,000 local money. It was not paid on cash term but on the condition that the buyer, Tietgen to build a church in a style similar to the original plans and to donate it back to the state when it was completed. The buyer, in turn was compensated with the rights to subdivide neighboring plots for development. A very attractive deal for any developer.

Yes, the dome is indeed in similar with St Peter's Basilica Dome in Vatican City design
The deal was at the time was highly controversial. On 25 January 1877, a case was brought by the Folketing at the Court of Impeachment where the Minister,  Krieger being charged with corruption over this deal. He was, however, eventually acquitted. Tietgen appointed Ferdinand Meldahl to design the church in its final form and financed its construction. Due to financial restrictions, the original plans for the church to be built almost entirely from marble were discarded, and instead Meldahl opted for limestone to minimise the budget. The church was finally opened to the public on 19th August 1894, 145 years from it's inception.

Inscribed in gold lettering on the entablature of the front portico are the Danish words "HERRENS ORD BLIVER EVINDELIG" carries a meaning "the word of the Lord endureth for ever." taken from the Bible, Peter 1:25, KJV.

A series of statues of prominent theologians and ecclesiastical figures, including one of the eminent Danish philosopher Kierkegaard (who, incidentally, had become very critical of the established church by the end of his life), encircles the grounds of the building. For those who has visited Vatican City and paid attention to the dome, may have notice that indeed, the dome in Marble Church is a copy paste of the dome there. You may refer to the said dome photo in my Italy travelogue, the link is here, Italy- Rome 2006.

But of course, St Peter's Basilica is more larger and grandeur in terms of size, pieces of its arts collection, etc being a seat to Roman Catholic house, Christianity founder, whom I said made numerous error in translating the Holy Bible and had misled the original teaching of Jesus, pbuh. 

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