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    The smallest country in the world offers the heart of Catholicism and among the world's finest art collections, including the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael Rooms (ceiling pictured). Go to Vatican City!

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Architecture of Denmark

Dannish Architecture - Roskilde Cathedral
Roskilde Cathedral

Most of Denmark's historic and traditional architecture are wooden structures, so unfortunately many of these buildings are no longer standing today. The most notable of these were the stave churches, which were supported by ship masts and generally had steep roofs to prevent snow build-up. Unfortunately, there are no original stave churches still standing in Denmark (see Norwegian architecture). Despite this wood-building tendency, there are still a couple Romanesque buildings that have survived nearly a millennium and many more recent structures that were erected.

In either the 1100s or 1200s Roskilde Cathedral was built on the island of Zealand. This church, in the Gothic style, has been continuously expanded by the Danish royal family over time meaning its many chapels are a premier example of Danish architectural movements since it was originally built. It also became a model for many other Danish and Scandinavian churches and is, perhaps, the best example of Gothic architecture in Denmark.

Dannish Architecture - Kronborg Castle
Kronborg Castle

Another historic structure, the Kronborg Castle (1500-1600s) near Helsingor (Elsinore) is, like Roskilde Cathedral, a building with significant influence in multiple realms. Architecturally, this castle is in the Renaissance style and is again one of the best examples of the style in Denmark. This castle is also owned by the royal family, but today most foreigners only know it as the location of Shakespeare's Hamlet.

The next major influence on Danish architecture came in the late 1700s and early 1800s when the neo-Classical movement arrived in Copenhagen. Many of the city's municipal buildings and churches were built in this new style as the court house, Thorvaldsen Museum, and Church of Our Lady are all neo-Classical buildings.

Dannish Architecture - Nyhavn Street in Copenhagen
Nyhavn Street in Copenhagen

Denmark has experienced a more recent architectural boom in the 1900s and 2000s. Copenhagen's town hall (1892-1901) is a unique structure with hints of neo-Renaissance and neo-Gothic architecture. More recently, many of Denmark's buildings have been more original as modern architecture has taken hold and for much of these last two centuries the country has had the financials to construct these marvels. Many of these building are in Copenhagen, which remains to this day the best example of Denmark's architectural history as there are buildings from nearly every time period that can still be explored.

This page was last updated: March, 2013