Christiansfeld

Christiansfeld
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Christiansfeld a Moravian Settlement was founded in 1773 by the Moravian Church, following a strict city plan.

From the German village of Herrnhut, the first Moravian missions were directed to the Dano-Norwegian Empire. Christiansfeld is the best-preserved example of such settlements in Europe.

The town was named after the Danish king Christian VI.

Map of Christiansfeld

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Els

Visit April 2013

In southern Denmark lies a small town where in 1773 the Protestant Herrnhutter started a new church community. Their town plan and characteristic light brick houses have been preserved until today. It is a quiet place where linden trees line the streets on both sides, and where the huge wooden Moravian Church is still the focal point. Christiansfeld a Moravian Settlement is one of no less than three Danish nominations for 2015

April 2013

The Herrnhutter or Moravian Brethren are a Protestant denomination originating from Bohemia, whose members settled in Saxony (now Germany) after being persecuted in the Catholic Habsburg lands. There they established a new village called Herrnhut, and from that place they started the first large-scale Protestant missionary movement. They sent their missionaries to all parts of the world. Denmark (or more accurately: the Dano-Norwegian Empire of that period) was one of the first places they went to.

Christiansfeld is an easy site to visit on the way between the Jelling WHS and the Hamburg Speicherstadt TWHS, and well worth a short stop. I was there in April 2013 and I walked Christianfeld’s picturesque main streets in about half an hour. It’s a small town that has preserved its planned layout and original architecture well. The straight roads still are lined with rows of linden. The sturdy houses are made of light coloured bricks. The building style is very sober, in accordance with the Moravian principles. The undoubted highlight of the town is the huge wooden Moravian Church, located at a fine small square that would not be out of place in Holland. No wonder, as the Dutch town of Zeist is said to have been used as an example for Christiansfeld’s construction.

April 2013

After my visit in 2013, I believed that this nomination would need a brilliantly written nomination file to convince ICOMOS and the WHC. Two years later we know that it has received a positive recommendation for inclusion by ICOMOS, so you may guess that the Danes have succeeded in doing so. The dossier however is not without its flaws, and we might see a transformation of this single ‘group of buildings’ into a transnational serial site over the coming years.

We have discussed the Moravian Heritage Network on our Forum before: it is (or was?) a network of Moravian settlements in Northern Ireland, the USA, South Africa, Germany and The Netherlands. They have worked together for some years on a joint nomination, but Christiansfeld has chosen to go ahead on its own as the others are not ready yet and “because Christiansfeld is the best remaining example anyway”.

April 2013

In its evaluation, ICOMOS does not fully agree with this conclusion: it may be the best preserved in Europe, but the serial nature of these church colonies around the world must be stressed. While the OUV of Christiansfeld is enough to earn a place on the WH List, the AB urges other countries (outside of Europe) to add serial sites in the coming years. Towns in the US may qualify (such as Bethlehem, Pennsylvania), but maybe also places in South Africa, Tanzania, Nicaragua or the Danish West Indies. So it will be interesting whether we will see any 'Moravian heritage' activity on future Tentative Lists.

Community Reviews

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Jay T

USA - 03-Aug-22 -

Christiansfeld by Jay T

I know much has been written about Christiansfeld already, but I don't yet see a review from the perspective of one who has visited a component of the proposed extension to the World Heritage Site before visiting Denmark. In the spring of 2021 I took a road trip to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to learn more about the Moravian Church Settlements Tentative World Heritage Site extension to Christiansfeld. I came away from the trip with a much richer understanding of the role of the Moravian Church in early America, and the innovations they brought to the young country. The trip gave me high hopes for my visit to Christiansfeld when I traveled to Denmark last month, but unfortunately I left disappointed.

The most striking difference for me between Bethlehem and Christiansfeld was the lack of signage and information about the Moravian Church in Christiansfeld. Some of that can be attributed to the lack of an official tour at Christiansfeld, something I was able to arrange in Bethlehem. Perhaps because of that, but also because of the signs and onsite personnel, I gained a much better understanding about the history and impact of the Moravian Church, with its focus on mission and community and hard work, at Bethlehem than I did at Christiansfeld. Christiansfeld was built later than Bethlehem, but has many of the same components -- the simple and central church, the choir houses for men and women, God's Acre (the cemetery), the school for girls that was a novelty for its time. Christiansfeld, like Bethlehem, valued hard work and trades: in Bethlehem, the Moravians created one of the earliest industrial parks in America, and in Christiansfeld, the Moravians developed skills in stovemaking (the stoves can be seen in the Sisters' House) and baking honey cakes. However, had I not previously visited Bethlehem, I'm confident I wouldn't have learned what little I did about Christiansfeld by having questions ready to ask of the women working at the store in the Sisters' House; the lack of available information is something that really should be rectified.

It was Solivagant's recent review of Gracehill, United Kingdom -- another component of the proposed extension -- that helped bring into focus some of the mixed feelings I had about Christiansfeld. In Christianfeld's nomination package, they chose to focus on the city planning aspect to make a case that Christiansfeld was the best representation of a Moravian settlement, downplaying other sites because of their placement of the Brothers' or Sisters' Houses or of God's Acre; or for a lack of symmetry. By doing so, I can't help feeling like Christiansfeld's push to become a World Heritage Site on its own first, rather than as a transnational nomination, went against the Moravian Church's values, particularly when it comes to equality. Additionally, Christiansfeld appeared to be missing a component of the Moravian ethos that I easily learned about in Bethlehem -- the longstanding commitment to missionary outreach, which in Bethlehem started with the local Lenape people. In short, while Christiansfeld has a distinctive outward appearance, I feel like the site itself missed the heart of the Moravian Church, by not explaining how the church's principles of equality, communal living, hard work, and missionary outreach are reflected throughout the town. For that I give the edge to Bethlehem, and it makes me feel much stronger that Christiansfeld should both be extended as a trasnational World Heritage Site, and that Christiansfeld should improve its onsite communication to visitors about how its buildings and layout display the Moravian ethos. While I would give two stars to Christiansfeld, I would give an extra half star if it were extended to be a transnational site.

Logistics: Christiansfeld is probably easiest to reach by private transportation, although there are some options by train and bus from Copenhagen. Parking was relatively easy to find in the town.


Caspar Dechmann

Switzerland - 17-May-22 -

Christiansfeld by Caspar Dechmann

I visited this little town in the summer of 2021 when I covered all the inscribed sites on Denmark proper and a few tentative sites. I decided to stay overnight here and rented a room in the Brødremenighedens Hotel, probably the only hotel in town. It is not cheap (as all hotels in Denmark) but it is in one of the largest historic buildings in town and features not only a restaurant (with a UNESCO-Menue!) and several historic halls. I figure you can see them also without being a guest. There were several reasons I decided to stay overnight: It fit decently with my travel route coming south from the eastern centre of Jutland (coming from Aarhus over Jelling) and, as strange as it sounds, because I knew that there was not very much to see. I hate it when I look back disappointedly at a visit to a WHS, knowing that I missed a kew element that might have improved the impression. So when I visit a while a large WHS like an inscribed city I know I needs several visits to cover all interesting parts so I have to come back anyway. On the other hand when I visit a small site I like to make sure I see all (possibly) important parts so I don't have to go home with the feeling that I should got there again to see a missed part. 

As has been mentioned by other reviewers you can mainly walk around the little town centre and the cemetery but there are few interiors and museum spaces you can visit: There is the church building and a few cafes you can enter and a museum Christiansfeld | Museum Kolding in the old brethren house, where the unmarried young men lived together, but all of them have different and limited opening hours. Since a short afternoon visit would not have allowed me to see the church and the museum because of the opening hours I decided to explore the town at slow space for an evening and a morning, hoping the town would reveal more of its hidden, "intangible" charms to the lingering visitor. 

When I arrived in the late afternoon I checked in and went straight to the main plaza with the church and the museum. The church was open: It is a huge but intentionally plain space so there is not much more to do then to get a feeling for the very protestant space of worship. After that I walked happily around the centre, exploring all the old wooden buildings, the accessible parks and gardens, the cemetery and had a simple dinner at one of the pubs. The next morning, after another walk I visited the museum. It gives you some good information about the Moravians, their history, their traditions and crafts and about some of the other Moravian settlements. There isn't that much new if you have done some preparation before coming but it is nice enough and the best thing is centainly that you can walk around the large building with different floors and halls. Really impressive is the choir hall with an incredible acoustic. 

While I enjoyed my laid-back half day in this little time capsule I still think this is a rather weak site. It is often mentioned that, since it is a rather weak site, a serial inscription would make more sense. I am not sure about that: Since there seems to be an agreement that this is clearly the best of the Moravian towns I do not see what would be gained by adding even smaller und weaker settlements. I think it makes more sense to inscribe the best example of a kind as has probably been done here instead of combining many weak elements to make up a site that is still weak though this seems more and more the tactic that countries use to gain an new inscription. Nonetheless I would like to visit a few more of the Moravian and Herrenhäuser settlements if I get the opportunity. When I checked them on the web it was quite clear that they were all even smaller then the small centre of Christiansfeld. 

One settlement I had visited the year before was Neuwied near Koblenz: There is still a Herrenhuter church and one street with a few buildings but it is within the town and there is no seperate settlement. What I found very interesting though was the Roentgen-Museum: This family of carpenters (with the father Abraham and the even more famous son David) had a workshop in Neuwied and made some of the most famous furniture of the 18th century being in high demand for kings and emperors, including Napoleon and Cathrine the Great. They were the continental Chippendales.  The fathers story I found remarkable: he was a Herrenhuter but got so successful that he had to leave the community since his wealth was not compatible with the doctrines of poverty of his church. But when he retired he returned to Herrenhut and his former community. BTW, another beautiful collections of Roentgen furniture can be seen in the stunning David Collection in Copenhagen that is mainly famous for its huge collection of Islamic art. 


Thomas Harold Watson

United Kingdom - 01-May-20 -

Christiansfeld by Thomas Harold Watson

I wasn’t meant to visit Christiansfeld on the day that I went as I only planned on seeing the Jelling Mounds, but as I had a lot of time to spare anyway I just jumped on a couple of busses and went.

There was nothing truly remarkable about the town, but it did feel like I had taken a little step back in history (maybe a couple of hundred years). But the lack of information boards, visitor centres or even a timetable at the church were definitely let downs. I was lucky enough to find a random guy in the street who strangely enough had the key for the building to let me in and around, but not everyone will be this lucky! 

The graveyard was probably the most fascinating thing to me, and as it seemed like they were doing it up when I went I’m sure it’ll be even better when/if you visit! I do think this site would have been better if shared with other similar places around the world, and am surprised that it got WHS status alone.

 

If you do decide to visit this part of Denmark you can easily do both this, and the Jelling Mound in the same day, but probably come here first to ensure you get let into the building. 

Read more from Thomas Harold Watson here.


Jakob Frenzel

Germany - 12-Nov-19 -

Christiansfeld by Jakob Frenzel

July 2019 - after visiting family in Hamburg, we decided to travel through Jütland to see the 2 mainland WHS in Denmark. We had visited Herrnhut, and we do have a Herrnhuter Star hanging in our flat around Christmas. But we did not know about the significance of the religious group. Arriving in Christiansfeld you see an old, cozy village with brickhouses and Malves blooming in front. Very nice, but we were here a bit too early so all we could do is get some Tyrstrup from the local bakery and wander around the few streets, visit the cemetary and enjoy the weather. Definitely worth a stop, however a joined  WHS with other Moravian settlements would make more sense.

 


Ingemar Eriksson

Sweden - 15-Jul-18 -

An aspect of Christiansfeld is that it must be one of the most northern cities in Germany for about 55 years. After the war Germany-Denmark 1864, the border was placed some kilometers north of Christiansfeld. (The German land survey marker still stands in a dike along the old highway.) Then, after 1 world war, the referendum about new border Denmark-Germany took C. back to Denmark. This border from 1920 still is in place and we can study the further aspects in the new WHS Hedeby and Danevirke in Germany.


Alexander Barabanov

Russia - 20-Oct-17 -

Christiansfeld by Alexander Barabanov

Visited Christiansfeld during weekend tour from Copenhagen in September 2017. I liked this quit unusual city and the whole story behind Moravian church.

The most imppressive site for me was also cemetery with the funeral plates that haven't changed in the last 200 years.

Also central church with minimum decorations and white benches looks like discussion hall rather then ritual place.

It's not a stunning place, but I certainly felt something special about this community. The core is quite small and it would take an hour to explore everyting. I also visited Christinero, a small park within several kilometers from Christiansfeld. This is romantic getaway place for the wife of the chamberlain Christina Frederica von Holstein (1741-1812). Several original buildings, uncluding Chapel and Pavilion are preserved in the park.


Clyde

Malta - 08-Aug-16 -

Christiansfeld by Clyde

I visited this WHS in July 2016. I drove to this small town from Stevns Klint and without noticing I had parked just in front of the main square and Moravian church. Visiting on a weekday meant that the town was less of a tourist museum when compared to the weekend. The town planning is intact and although there is a heritage trail marking around 27 sites to see, 25 of these sites are practically one next to the other on two parallel roads so it is very easy to visit. The main church facade is quite plain in line with the Moravian way of life. The rear of the church is covered in wood like other interesting dwellings nearby. I kept going round in circles trying to find this interesting feature (Els' photo) only to find out that on weekdays it is used as a kindergarten/school playground. There's even a metal goal post attached to it! The plain white interior is being refurbished at the moment and will not be accessible at least till the end of November this year. Perhaps this is why I preferred the quiet Tyrstrup Church. I wandered around the heritage trail and strangely enough the real highlight of my visit was the Moravian cemetery also known as God's Field. The cemetary is built in the shape of a cross and is lined with tall lime trees. What struck me most was that there were no family burial places. Women or community sisters are buried to the right and men or community brethren are buried to the left, exactly like the congregation is seated in the Moravian church. The majority of the graves are identical as a symbol that after death all are equal. The oldest graves are from the 18th century and are made of stone. Although some of the graves are damaged and the engravings are covered with moss or fading, a special effort is being done to restore them. The newer graves are made of marble which is a pity as I really like the symbol of equality. The majority of the sisters and the brethren had the name Christian in their first names, middle names or surnames, after the king Christian VII. After a short coffee break at the fabulous Xocolatl coffee shop for some gingerbread and honey cakes, I drove for a few kilometres to visit the last 2 sites near Tyrstrup: Christinero and the inscribed bole house. A bole house or bulladen is a typical Jutland timber building built with horizontal oak planks between vertical upright planks. the one in Tyrstrup was built in 1668 and it is the largest bullade in Denmark. Christinero is an enjoyable late 1700s park. It is named after Christina Friederica von Holstein, who called it "My thoughts". Her white wooden farm, Favrågård, lies at the heart of this park (around 2km from Christiansfeld). All in all I enjoyed my visit and although this site might fill in some gaps in the WH list, I don't think the site alone has OUV. Perhaps this WHS will be used in the future to extend the inscription to other Moravian settlements worldwide and become a transnational WHS which I think would be worth a try.


Ian Cade

UK - 03-May-16 -

Christiansfeld by Ian Cade

Whilst pleasant there isn't a huge amount to see in Christiansfeld. I actually drove through the main sights without noticing, eventually parking on what I thought to be a well maintained back street garden only to find that it was actually the central square.

Some surprisingly sleety drizzle pushed me in the direction of the recently refurbished museum. It seemed some sort of local meeting had just finished, and the well-dressed inhabitants were discussing the events whilst I perused the exhibits, which gave me as thorough a rundown of the town’s importance as I needed. I also discovered that the main church was closed for a long term renovation.

Then I headed out to tour the town, about 10 minutes later I was back on the same square having seen pretty much everything in the inscribed area. There was a pleasant tree lined path leading to the well planned cemetery, and some well-maintained houses and that was about it, well for this non-specialist anyway. Perhaps a guided tour could explain some of the details of the town plan that reflect the Moravian Brethren a little more.

I had however saved the best for last. Apparently the town has a famous contribution to Danish cuisine, Honnigkage (honey cake), it was news to me but it was a very welcome addition to my travel diet. There were two shops opposite each other selling it. I plumped for the one that also sold expensive chocolates, it was utterly delicious. Much to my surprise they also sold a very good quality latte. Two students that interviewed me for their research said the cake in the shop opposite was even better.

All in all it is was a pretty unremarkable place to visit. If you're in the area and have 15 minutes to kill it is worth calling in to get some honey cake, beyond that it is hard to find much else to warrant a stop beyond a tick off the list.

Site 2: Experience 4


Site Info

Full Name
Christiansfeld a Moravian Settlement
Unesco ID
1468
Country
Denmark
Inscribed
2015
Type
Cultural
Criteria
3 4
Categories
Urban landscape - Post-medieval European
Link
By ID

Site History

2015 Inscribed

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The site has 1 locations

Christiansfeld

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AYB Alessandro Votta Alexander Barabanov Alexander Lehmann Allanmc Allison Vies Ana Lozano Argo Ask Gudmundsen Assif Astraftis Atila Ege Bin Birgitte Sørensen Bodil Ankerly Bram de Bruin Carstenhansen Caspar Dechmann Cezar Grozavu Chris Law Christoph Claire Bradshaw Clem C Clyde Cobaltrage Colossus Coppi Craig Harder CugelVance Dachangjin3 Dagmara Dan Pettigrew Daniel C-Hazard David Berlanda Dibro Dimitar Krastev Dimitrios Polychronopoulos Donia Dutchbirder Ellen Nielsen Els Slots FS Farinelli Femke Roos Flexiear Frank Britton Frederik Dawson Gijs Grimloch Haining Guan Harry Mitsidis Hubert Iain Jackson Ian Cade Ingemar Eriksson Ivan Rucek J Mitchell Jacob Choi Jakob Frenzel Jakubmarin Janameerman Jarek Pokrzywnicki Jasam Jay T Jesse S 2010 Joel Baldwin JohanneB John Smaranda Jonas Hagung Jonas Kremer Jonas Martinsson Jordanovichy Joshuakirbens Joyce van Soest Kasia M. Kasper Kbecq Keith90245 Krijn Laffingleigh Lara Adler Lidiane Lois Dekker Lubos MH MaYumin Martina Ruckova Mattias MiIm Michal Kozok Michal Marciniak Michiel Dekker Mikko Milan Jirasek Monica66 Monika and Rini Mozzer76 Nan Nasebaer Nicole Kilian Nihal Ege Nomad99 Pascal Cauliez Pasha Globus Patrik Peter Alleblas Peter Lööv PeterH Philipp Leu Philipp Peterer Rachel Perkins Ralf Regele Randi Thomsen Rickard Alfredsson RobRos Robin Frank Roger Ourset Roman Koeln Roman Raab Rudegirl SHIHE HUANG Sabrina Liebehentschel Sascha Grabow Schnitzel Shandos Cleaver Shannon O'Donnell Simonh SirLoydd Skalec Sncjob Sofia SJM Sophie Stanislaw Warwas Stefan Loov Stefan and Mia Stetrab Super-Sophie Svein Elias Szucs Tamas Tarquinio_Superbo Tatiana Nikulnikova Thibault Magnien Thomas Buechler Thomas Harold Watson Thomas van der Walt Thorben Tom Flaten Tony0001 Tsunami Veronica Veronika Vaclavek Voyager Walter H. Wojciech Fedoruk Xangadib YaroMir Yuri Samozvanov Zoë Sheng