Copenhagen

Marble Church/Frederik’s Church

Marble Church:Frederik's Church exterior
Marble Church/Frederik’s Church exterior

If you stand in the middle of the square at Amalienborg Palace, look between the northwest and southwest buildings of the four main buildings that comprise the palace, Frederik’s Church, a baroque-style church that is about a block a way, will be nicely framed between those two buildings.

Frederik’s Church is the official name, but it’s more commonly called The Marble Church because of the material used to construct it, although I came across some contradictory information about that construction material.

Because of severe budget problems, there’s not quite as much expensive Norwegian Marble in it as originally intended. Instead, much less expensive Danish Faxe marble was used for much of the building. (Faxe is a place in Denmark, not a typo that should have been faux.)

At least, that’s what the church’s web site said. But marble is just a “hard crystalline metamorphic form of limestone.” Limestone is what the Wikipedia entry on Frederik’s Church said is the church’s primary building material. Limestone doesn’t sound nearly as impressive as marble, even if it’s only Danish Faxe marble.

Marble Church/Frederik's Church ceiling
Marble Church/Frederik’s Church ceiling

Then again, Wikipedia entries are subject to change without notice, so maybe someone will revise “limestone” to “cheaper marble” in that entry. Or maybe someone will revise it to “chipboard with a faux limestone veneer.” You just never know with Wikipedia.

Those budget problems also meant that the church took a long time to build. A really long time. Commissioned by King Frederik V of Denmark, the foundation stone was laid in 1749, but the church wasn’t consecrated until 1894. This was a result of the work being very slow and because, after the building’s architect died and then, 12 years later, King Frederik V died, the Prime Minister of the day (who was later executed for other reasons) ordered the project stopped because it was too expensive. Work resumed only after a 100-year hiatus.

Marble Church/Frederik's Church interior
Marble Church/Frederik’s Church interior

Beautiful

Regardless of the budget constraints, the church is beautiful.

Frederik’s Church (aka The Marble Church) is round. Some churches have a round section with one or two, or maybe even four, rectangular sections attached to it to hold the pews, but this church is round pretty much all-round. On the exterior, there is a squared-off projection, which extends only a small way out from the building, containing the main entrance, but inside the floor is round.

Marble Church/Frederik's Church interior
Marble Church/Frederik’s Church interior

The ceiling is a beautifully patterned concave surface that includes a number of religious paintings between a series of ribs that join at a circle that, at its center, has a clear eye that lets light stream in. That is, it lets light stream if it’s daytime and not excessively cloudy, which was the case when I was there.

I assume that at night or during deeply overcast days it let’s the dark just sort of sit there minding its own business. But I have no personal experience of those conditions, so I can’t confirm that.

Being a shell, rather than say carved out of cube, the ceiling is, of course, only concave if viewed from the inside. From the outside it’s convex. Simultaneously concave and convex: that’s just one of life’s little mysteries. Alright, it’s not much of a mystery other than to the exceptionally feeble-minded, but I don’t like to stretch my intellect too much while on vacation.

Marble Church/Frederik's Church organ
Marble Church/Frederik’s Church organ

Statues, Organs and More

The walls of the church contain a number of small, clear (as opposed to stained glass), rectangular windows just below where the ceiling arcs up. Lower down are a series of arches that meet the floor.

There are a number of carvings in the wall and a few statues mounted on the wall. (Because it’s a round room, I used the singular, wall, instead of the plural, walls. As I wrote that word, it felt kind of funny because I was referring to what walls all around me in the church, which in most buildings would include at least four walls.)

Marble Church/Frederik's Church organ
Marble Church/Frederik’s Church organ

The church also houses two small, but attractive organs, one of which is very beautifully decorated. There are pictures of both of them on this page. You can figure out which one I mean.

(When I referred to organs above I, of course, meant organs as in musical instruments, not as in body parts. I don’t know if this church has any reliquaries containing remnants of the other sort of organs. Old Catholic churches often do. However, I didn’t see anything indicating there was one here. This is probably not surprising because Frederik’s Church or The Marble Church or whatever you want to call it is not as old a church as one from, for example, Renaissance times. What’s more, it’s an Evangelical Lutheran church, not a Catholic church and I don’t think reliquaries are de rigueur in Lutheran churches, evangelical or not.)

There are a number of statues on the sidewalk around the church, on its exterior walls and mounted on a balcony-like ring above the lower section of the church, which forms a somewhat larger circle than the upper section.

Whether you are religious or not—and you can’t get much less religious than I am seeing as though I’m atheist—Frederik’s/Marble Church is worth a visit just to absorb its beauty.

One comment

  1. Excellent! Lots of great church buildings took a _very_ long time to complete, because of war, budget crises or labour shortages eg Cologne. But when a building goes on for decades and even centuries, is the original architect’s design preserved?

    This is a good example. The Marble Church started in 1749 and wasn’t completed until 150 years later, during which time architects came and went, and architectural tastes changed. Whose tastes triumphed here?

Been there? Done that? Do tell.