Situated atop a small hill on the outskirts of Copenhagen is a monumental church, whose Gothic façade appears as though out of nowhere. In 1940, after more than 20 years of building, this striking piece of architecture was consecrated as a commemoration of the Danish priest and philosopher N.F.S. Grundtvig (1783-1872). Grundtvig, one of the most influential characters in Danish church history, presented the Evangelical Lutheran church with a whole new perspective: human first, Christian second. After Grundtvig’s death, a competition to design his memorial was initiated, and Danish architect, Peder Vilhelm Jensen-Klint, won the jury over with his impressive project, Grundtvig’s Church.
In both his work and personal life, Jensen-Klint was inspired by Grundtvig and his take on humanity. Grundtvig demanded acceptance of his view and take on religion, as did Jensen-Klint in the architectural style of the memorial. Mixing Medieval traditions with Gothic columns in a church that was appointed the size of a cathedral, Jensen-Klint created something that had never been done before. Having constructed a couple of small town churches prior to Grundtvig’s chuch, Jensen-Klint was accustomed to using red bricks; however, the comprehensive size of this memorial would mean a rather oppressive red brick building, and thus he opted for a lighter, yellow brick as the base building material.
On the exterior, the bricks have darkened through the passage of time; but inside, the colour palette makes the impression that it is as light as the day it was assembled. Visitors often comment on the bright, airy and minimal feel of the interiors. As Grundtvig’s beliefs were not characterised by a pronounced worship of God, this church too, isn’t inundated with crosses or paintings of the Virgin Mary. Today, locals and tourists alike flock to the small hill of Bispebjerg Bakke to take in the silence and ambiance of the church.