Friday, December 05, 2008

Esrum Kloster, North Zealand

The old wing

Esrum Kloster was etablished by the Order of the Cistercians (White Brothers). Esrum actually began as a Benedictine monastery established by archbishop Eskil in 1140, but was abandoned and in decay - and Eskil then established Esrum in 1151 as a daughter-cloister of the cloister in Clairvaux, since he was a private friend of Bernhard of Clairvaux. Only small remains are left from the large medieval grounds, but there is still a certain medieval atmosphere in the simple tall building.

A lovely tree in the park

The medieval cloister buildings in red monk-bricks were placed north of Esrum Sø in a beautiful untouched landscape with forest and meadows, a landscape which still ecists - but today only a single late medieval east wing is preserved. Below under the present private house-buildings are found rests of a very large building-complex. The cloister-church seems to have been more than 100 meter long ,which makes it the biggest in Denmark.

Fine old wall and a walled-in window

Esrum was a Nordic centre in the common European net of cloisters spreading from Sicily to Norway and from Poland to Ireland. It became the biggest and most important cloister in Scandinavia and was ancestress of a long row of cloisters in Scandinavia, in North Germany and in Poland, among those Vitskøl, Sorø, Ryd, Dargun in the Wendic area (later moved to Eldena) and Colbaz in Poland. During the 1100s Esrum monastery was a Scandinavian spearhead for spreading the Order of the Cistercians. Furthermore the White Brothers of Esrum became the biggest landowners in North Zealand , receiving gifts during the Middle Ages from magnates and other rich benefactors. These old informations are kept in the socalled Esrumbog from 1497. Five manuscripts are preserved, four from about year 1200.

Esrum Kloster from the yard

After the reformation the cloister was allowed to function until 1559. The last monks were transferred to Sorø Kloster (Monastery), and the demolition of the big cloister church in Esrum began. Some of the building materials were used for building Kronborg Castle by Elsinore. The rest of the building by Esrum were used for several purposes up to 1931 where they were transferred to Indenrigsministeriet (ministry of the interior) and later to Boligministeriet (ministry of housing). They were leased by private persons and by The National Museum (Copenhagen) storing purpose.

Esrum Møllegård

In 1992 a Natural Center and a School of Environment were established in the old farmbuilding Esrum Møllegård. The old watermill was restored and a part is now converted into an ecological café. The same year the restoration of the cloister-building started, finansed by Frederiksborg Amtsråd plus several fonds and private persons, and in 1997 Esrum Kloster opened to the public and was in the year 2000 administratively added together with Esrum Møllegård in an independent fond Esrum Kloster and Møllegård.

Esrum Kloster in the yard, entré in the corner down to
the restaurant
in the vaulted cellar.

When digging the area during the restoration many relict-plants grew up from seeds which had been sleeping in the earth for centuries. Experts from Scandinavia got together and created a fantastic medieval garden (Esrum Klosterhave) with a various selection of plants with a cultural and medicinal history. Herbs can be bought in the shop. Besides the ecological café in Esrum Møllegård there is also a café in the vaulted cellar in the cloister building , "Broder Rus Café", where people can get dishes made from original medieval recipes and beer, brewed like the monks did. (Munkeøl).

Vistkøl Kloster, the church ruins

Cistercian Cloisters in Denmark in the Middle Ages:
Esrum Kloster (1151-1153) earlier a Benedictine monastery. Monks came from Clairvaux.

Holme Kloster (1172) Later name 1672 Brahe Trolleborg. Remains without public admittance.

Knardrup Kloster (1320) between Ganløse and Mårløv. Monks from Sorø. No remains.

Løgum Kloster (1173) Monks from Herrevad. Remains: a tree-naved cross-church and part of east wing with library and Kapitelsal.

Roskilde Kloster (Nunnery) (before 1177) connection to Sorø Kloster, from here a daughter cloister is established in Bergen at Rügen 1193. (Rügen belonged to Roskilde bishopric.)

Slangerup Kloster (Nunnery) (1175) No remains.

Sminge Kloster (1165) by Gudenå north of Silkeborg. Monks from Vitskøl. Moved later to Veng Kloster.

Sorø Kloster (1142/1161). Monks from Esrum. Daughter-cloisters Knardrup and Ås. Remains: Sorø Klosterkirke. Archbishop Absalon' s burial place is here.

Tvis Kloster (1163), East of Holstebro on an island in the river Tviså. Daughter of Herrevad Kloster. No remains.

Veng Kloster (see Øm Kloster). North of Skanderborg. The church still exists.

Vitskøl Kloster (1158) Vitae Scola, daughter-cloister of Esrum. By Limfjorden south of Løgstør. Vitskøl founded a daughter-cloister in Øm, established with means from Valdemar the Great's paternal inheritance. Later name Bjørnsholm, present name Vitskøl. The church is a ruin. Cloister-building is partly remains.

Øm Kloster (1172) Cara Insula, by Mossø, south of Ry. Daughter-cloister of Vitskøl. Once named Emborg. Monks came from several places, among others Veng. Øm Klosters Chronicle covers the period 1172-1267. No remains, except ruins. Exhibition and little museum mainly with bone-findings. Building materials from the demolished Øm Kloster were used for Skanderborg Slot where the church still exists. (by the main street in the town Skanderborg).

Ryd Kloster by Flensborg Fjord.

photo 2008: grethe bachmann (except photo from Vitskøl 2003)

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