Friday, July 08, 2005

Copenhagen's Wierd towers

Sadly I have been side-tracked today by events in London, so it seems a complete report will not be forthcoming on my trip for a while - maybe I will upload to the website only?

I did mention yesterday two of the oddest towers in my churchcrawling experience, so feel that this blog and a couple of pics may keep you all entertained. The Copenhagen towers concerned are that belonging to Trinity church, and the other to Our Saviour's church.

Trinity church's tower was built in 1636, in brick and is circular. You can ascend the tower for a fine view of the city which we did. The surprise is how you ascend the tower. A close look at the exterior hints at what is to come. Tall pilasters seperate tiers of seven or eight windows which are not in alignment with their neighbours. Inside a wide continuous brick floored ramp ascends clockwise to the top, towards the outer wall the ascent is fairly gentle, towards the centre steeper but a shorter distance. Peter the Great apparently road his horse to the top with Catherine I Empress of Russia driving a carriage up behind him (1716). Behind the parapet a further stage reached by a short flight of steps contains a telescope (C20 now) and an observatory. From here it was possible to view the sun and see the solar flares! The church itself is of a similar period rebuilt after a fire in 1728. It contains the largest wall mounted cabinet clock I have seen and was perhaps my favourite Copenhagen interior.

Vor Frelsers Kirke (Our Saviour) was the first tower I saw as we entered the central parts of the city in the taxi from the airport. However I did not visit the church or climb the tower until Tuesday, our last full day in the city. The church dates from 1682-96, but the steeple was not built until 1752. To get to the top was far more exhausting - 400 steps, first up a wide four sided staircase in the flanking bay of the tower, then up the tower's upper stages on a much narrower wooden stair among the bells, and finally a copper spiral staircase with a pretty balustrade on the OUTSIDE of the spire. At the top it just peters out into the ball finial. I am usually OK with heights but as I turned I realised how little there was to save me from falling and I had to descend a little to a wider stair as a touch of vertigo afflicted me - it was actually my holding up the camera to take the view to the north that started it, plus a pair of helicopters practising for Bush-escort duties roaring past on their way from the country palace north of the city to the airport.


  1. Marvelous! Hope you got a picture or two of the stair itself.

    RE: London bombings:
    Are you counselling survivors?

  2. "was built in 1636, in brick and is circular. You can ascend the tower for a fine view of the city which we did."


    google Rundetaarn or Rundtårn

    The Tower
    Rundetaarn (The Round Tower) was built on the initiative of King Christian IV (1588-1648) with Hans Steenwinkel the Younger as the architect. On July 7th -1637, the foundation stone for Rundetaarn was laid. The tower was the first stage of the Trinitatis complex, which was to gather three important facilities for the scholars of the seventeenth century: an astronomical observatory, a student church and a university library, which was in the roof of the church until destroyed by the english with Lord Nelson

    The present telescope is from 1929 and is open to the public every Tuesday and Wednesday evening in winter

    It is the oldest preserved observatory in Europe

  3. The roof vas destroid in 1807 but Nelson died in 1805, good job.
    Erling Poulsen, Rundetaarn

  4. I wouldn't feel too bad about getting vertigo -
    Jules Verne included a story about the spire in his book Journey to the Centre of the Earth, whereby some of the characters climb to the top of the tower to try and cure their fear of heights. This church web page
    has an extract from the book and a picture of the scene. Note however that the illustration in the book shows the spiral as clockwise rather than anti-clockwise as it should be.

    Personally I'm definitely good at heights and I declined to climb the outside of the tower - I regretted it afterwards, but now that I know that someone who is normally good with heights got vertigo I feel a bit better.