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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Copenhagen - St. Alban's Church & The Gefion Fountain

Date of visit: 15th October 2015

St Alban's Church & The Gefion Fountain

I was hunting this unknown church (have no clue about its existence) that I spotted while exploring Langelinie Park because of its beauty and it look so ancient and neat. We didn’t entered nor peek inside due to time constraint. St. Alban Church is locally often referred to simply as the English Church, an Anglican church located right at Langelinie Street. It was built from 1885 to 1887 (just in 2 years) for the growing English congregation in the city. It was designed by Arthur Blomfield as a traditional English parish church in the Gothic Revival style, situated in a peaceful park setting at the end of Amaliegade in the northern part of the city centre, next to the citadel Kastellet and the Gefion Fountain and Langelinie Park.

At first, I was running around in wrong direction to reach the St Alban's Church

The church is part of Church of England's Diocese in Europe and is dedicated to Saint Alban, the first martyr of Great Britain. British community in Denmark has settled in within Elsinore area in the early 16th century. The town was an important logistical hub for the collection of Sound Dues. A community of Scots was the first to arrive which had a Scottish altar dedicated to Saint Jacob, Saint Andrew and the Scottish Saint Ninian in the local Saint Olaf's Church. The altar has now been moved to the National Museum of Denmark.


An increasing British community made an appeal to the Prince of Wales in 1864 to build a church, and his consort, the Danish-born Princess Alexandra, took it upon her to assist. She managed to raise funds as well as provided a very attractive site for its construction when she persuaded the Danish Ministry of War to grant permission to have the church built on the esplanade outside the citadel Kastellet. The foundation stone of St. Alban's Church was laid on 19 September 1885. The church was designed by Arthur Blomfield. It was consecrated two years later on 17 September 1887. A large display of European royalty, including the Prince and Princess of Wales, King Christian IX and Queen Consort Louise of Denmark, Tsar Alexander III and Tsarina Maria Feodorovna of Russia and George I and Olga of Greece attended it's opening day on 17th September 1887.


St. Alban's Church is designed as a traditional English church by the architect who also designed a number of parish churches around Britain. He received the Royal Institute of British Architects' Royal Gold Medal in 1891. It is built in the Gothic Revival style inspired by the Early English Style, also known as Lancet Gothic.


The church is built in limestone from the Faxe south of Copenhagen, knapped flint from Stevns and Aland stone for the spire. The conspicuous use of flint as a building material, unusual in Denmark, is another typical trait from England where it is commonly seen in church buildings in the south of the country, particularly East Anglia. The tiles on the roof are from Broseley in Shropshire. This is the only building spotted in Copenhagen which does not blend well with the rest of popular attractions, in colorful tones. Though it's dull but it stand as a unique kind of building that has to be outstanding to some people.


Seated not far from St Alban Church is the famous Gefion Fountain. The fountain features a large-scale group of animal figures being driven by the Norse goddess Gefjun. It is located in Nordre Toldbod area next to Kastellet and immediately south of Langelinie. It is the largest monument in Copenhagen which is used as a wishing well.


The fountain was donated to the city of Copenhagen by the Carlsberg Foundation on the occasion of the brewery’s 50-year anniversary. It was originally supposed to be located in the main town square outside city hall, but it was decided instead to build it near Oresund in its current location near Kastellet. It was designed by Danish artist Anders Bundgaard, who sculpted the naturalistic figures between 1897 till 1899. The basins and decorations were completed in 1908. The fountain was first activated on 14th July 1908.


The fountain underwent extensive renovations in 1999, where it was out of commission for many years. It was re-inaugurated in September 2004. The fountain depicts the mythical story of the creation of the island of Zealand on which Copenhagen is located. The legend appears in Ragnarsdrapa, a 9th-century Skaldic poem recorded in the 13th century Prose Edda, and in Ynglinga saga as recorded in Snorri Sturluson's 13th century Heimskringla.

Spotted the coins, anyone?

According to Ynglinga mythology, the Swedish king Gylfi promised Gefjun the territory she could plow in a night. She turned her four sons into oxen, and the territory they plowed out of the earth was then thrown into the Danish sea between Scania and the island of Fyn. The hole became a lake called Logrinn and Leginum. Snorri identifies the lake Loginn, as the lake of Old Sigtuna west of Stockholm, i.e., Lake Malaren, an identification that he returns to later in the Saga of Olaf the Holy. The same identification of Loginn/Leginum as Malaren appears in Asmundar saga kappabana, where it is the lake by Agnafit which appeared also in Knytlinga saga.

Last photo of the church snapped from they way we exited after touring Little Mermaid statue


Whatever the story was, I opined that the whole area, I mean the Langelinie Park, St Alban Church and Gefion Fountain has accompanied the lone Little Mermaid statue seated in the same vicinity, a bit further to the ocean. 

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