Introduction | Architecture of Denmark

Danish architecture originated more than a thousand years ago, when king Harald built military encampments. During the Middle Ages, the architecture of Denmark was firmly established when Romanesque and gothic cathedrals sprang up throughout the country with limited access to stone and brick to construct churches, forts, and castles. Inspired by French castles, designers were invited to Denmark from the Netherlands. For a long time during Christian IV’s reign, the Baroque style was significant, with impressive buildings, until Neoclassicism was adopted by native Danish architects who were initially impressed by France. In the 19th century, national romantic style merged with the equally productive period of historicism, and in 1960, when Danish architects entered the world during functionalism, they evolved and turned the world upside down by creating masterpieces like the Sydney Opera House and the Great Belt Bridge, creating ways for many architects to be rewarded at home as well as abroad. For it is said that a place’s architecture is understood through its styles, and this article here briefs about Denmark’s unique architectural styles from the Middle Ages to the contemporary to elevate Danish architecture to its true terms. 

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Danish architecture in Denmark and around the world_©

A historic monument with more significance in an architectural sense is a church building in Denmark. With so many royal chapels, the building reflects the changing European architectural history over the past 800 years. The Viking age architecture, which dated back to the late Iron Age in central and southern Scandinavia, was also used in the Norsemen’s North Atlantic colonies. 

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Artistic depiction of a Viking Age village by Vladimir Teneslav. _©

Most Viking-era towns were built near oceans and river mouths to protect against water attacks, and the four castles were built to serve as defenses for King Harald Bltand. The housing style of these long, narrow, crowded buildings based on timber walls, thatched roofs, and wattle walls served as community shelters primarily built with available materials like wood, sod, and turf in Scandinavia. In Scandinavia, the design of the fire pit was situated in the center of the longhouse, specifically in the large central hall with a hole above it to let the smoke exit the building. The floor consisted of pounded earth, and, depending on how large a longhouse was, rooms were partly unused and kept for storage purposes, and some were used for barns in which animals lived. Yet the structure was not noisy but rather was warm and comfortable.

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Reconstructed Viking house – Trelleborg and Viking’s house – Fyrkat _ © Monika, Borisova.(2010) Danish architecture from the middle ages until today. Available at: Via University College, Horsens Campus, Denmark.
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Aggersborg at the Limfjord_©Medival histories, natural history and heritage, Available at:

It was the largest of the four Viking castles. It could accommodate all the others put together and led to the theory that it was enchilada for SvenForkbeard’s troops before they ravaged England.

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Viking’s home floor plan_ ©Byock,Jesse.(2013) Viking Language. Jules William Press. Available at:

Romanesque period

In 1100, Denmark began to develop the Romanesque period in their church buildings, which can be seen in Roskilde Church and southwest Jutland Cathedral, one of the oldest structures since 1150.The Romanesque style in Denmark took semi-circular arch windows, smooth and round columns, and structures that served as decoration as well, where natural stone and granite were primarily used, and replaced them completely with wooden ones.

Gothic period | Architecture of Denmark

It occurred between 1250 and 1550, and churches were richly decorated with murals and wood carvings during this time. This style was distinguished by steep roofs, pointed arches for door portals, window arch openings with colored glass, and the use of brick due to a lack of stone material.

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The Brøshøj church _ ©
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The Arhus Cathedral of Gothic Periods_ ©

Renaissance period

The Danish Renaissance style took inspiration from Holland in the year 1536-1660, which marked the Reformation when church powers were broken and aristocracy changed the architectural look. It was during the reign of Christian IV, known as the largest Danish construction king, as he built many great buildings as the Renaissance was his favorite style. He built many famous structures such as Frederiksborg Castle, the Stock Exchange, the Round Tower, and Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen. As it was the period of medieval and early modern infrastructure and arts were given more importance and detailed ornamentation was made precise, this style in Denmark was distinguished by special curved walls and more decoration.

Baroque period | Architecture of Denmark

Individualism emerged during this period in the year 1650-1750, where windows, cornices, and parts of the walls were highlighted, and contrast between forms, light, and shadows played an important role that created a sense of movement and energy, giving more freedom to unique concepts. Architects began to create peace and clarity in a building that was choppier and more seemed to be moving. Characteristics of the buildings from the Baroque period include strictly symmetrical facades and a lower roof pitch.

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It was one of the first building characterizes the Danish Renaissance. It was built in 1538 and brings the typical gables and windows for that time. 

Frederiksberg castle_ source:
Frederiksberg castle_ source:
Rokoko door Nicolai Eigtved's drawing for the main portal door at Christiansborg Palace, carved by Le Clerc ©
Rokoko door Nicolai Eigtved’s drawing for the main portal door at Christiansborg Palace, carved by Le Clerc ©
The church of our savior_ ©Architecture of cities. Available at:
The church of our savior_ ©Architecture of cities. Available at:

The baroque architecture style is represented in The Church of Our Savior, an iconic work located in the Christianshavn neighborhood of Copenhagen. The spiral tower, curvature geometries, and spire, all in the Baroque style, established an innovative achievement in this structure, which was completed in 1752.

Rokoko period

It was the architect Niels Eigtved who introduced rococo in Denmark. It emerged in 1746 for a short period and later disappeared in 1770, characterized by more handicrafts and decoration relating to shells and flowers on the exteriors, interiors, doors, and portals. This style appeared more refined compared to baroque.


During this time, the transition from timber to brick began, and roofs were replaced by red hand-moulded tiles, giving greater focus on interiors. The architects from that period were interested in building plans and were creating cheap but beautiful solutions for apartment blocks, single houses, and public and monumental buildings. The characteristic features of the architecture of this period are very similar to those of the classical period, with symmetrical and harmonious construction. The main architectural idea of that time was that each building should be built around one idea and one form. The architecture requires simplicity and a consistent rhythm on the façade and was based upon economical requirements for the construction.

Modern period (Art Noveau | Architecture of Denmark

It is known as the modern style of Denmark in 1900 the design of curved shapes were inspired by natural forms against historicism. It emphasized good performance, shapes, and real materials effects and decoration based on line patterns of natural forms like tulips and lilies.

Aarhus station_ ©
Aarhus station_ ©

The main train station in Åarhus is built in 1927and is one of the neoclassicism main monuments. The building is inspired by one of the greatest ancient Greeks.

International modernism

Also known as functionalism in Nordic countries, it made a considerable impact on Denmark in the year 1930, when an exhibition in Stockholm was constructed using materials like glass, reinforced concrete, and steel. At a time when industrialization was playing a significant role, many Danish architects were inspired by American architects like Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe. drawing inspiration from organic shapes a masterpiece like the Sydney opera house was built by Danish architect Jorn Utzon an organic version of very hard-edged modernism with an architectural style of simplicity, soft, round, and more functional. Its architecture relates to its surroundings; it might not have looked the same if placed in Denmark. The Danish architects were popular for their style in Denmark as well as abroad.

Postmodernism, which had its origins in the American era, was not popular in Denmark. Between 1975 and 1995, the style represented a break with modernist architecture and urban planning, as architects moved away from the straight lines and simple shapes that were prevalent in modern architecture and experimented with combining ancient architecture with new steel structures in various forms, using unusual materials and colors.The buildings were designed with odd angles, broken imaginative forms in diagonal patterns, and geometrical mixed shapes.

Palace Cinema in Copenhagen, Postmodernism which from the 1070s describes reactions to modernism _©Monika, Borisova. (2010) Danish architecture from the middle ages until today. Available at: Via University College, Horsens Campus
Palace Cinema in Copenhagen, Postmodernism which from the 1070s describes reactions to modernism _©Monika, Borisova. (2010) Danish architecture from the middle ages until today. Available at: Via University College, Horsens Campus, Denmark.

Contemporary concepts of Denmark architecture | Architecture of Denmark

The priorities in contemporary Danish architecture changed and emphasized the importance of sustainable energy systems and a comfortable environment for the people using the building while working or living in the 21st century. Danish architecture became popular all over the world, led by famous architects like Bjarke Ingels and Henning Larsen, whose holistic approach contributed to sustainable energy and also for the people, as Danish architecture focuses on people, resulting in its cities and landscape providing a safe and enjoyable setting even for pedestrians and cyclists. Jan Gehl, a famous architect and urban planner, has an amazing approach to urban development focusing on people and spaces between buildings such as public squares and cycle lanes that has inspired cities like Sydney, New York, London, and Mexico City.

©VisitVejle Photo: Mads Fjeldsø Christensen
Danish architecture in Denmark and around the world_©VisitVejle Photo: Mads Fjeldsø Christensen

In comparison to other countries, Danish architecture is known as the happiest. Denmark has brought in more infrastructure like bridges, tunnels, and roadways in the modern day, most notably the resund Bridge, which opened in 1999. The National Library of Copenhagen and the Copenhagen Opera House were both constructed in the modern age, and they both have become important structures within the city’s skyline. Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, is known for its brightly colored buildings and radical contemporary architecture, both of which reflect the city’s joyful ethos. Danish architects are more drawn towards building happy cities with innovative ideas like pedestrian and bike friendliness and carbon-neutral infrastructure like a maritime metropolis. Through the human aspect, Danish architecture is mostly concerned with focusing on people, cities, and the spaces between them.


Byock,Jesse.(2013) Viking Language. Jules William Press. Available at:, (2012) Danish architecture in Denmark and around the world, Available at: .

Hisour, Architecture of Denmark. Available at: 

Medieval histories, nature history and heritage, Available at: 

Monika, Borisova. (2010) Danish architecture from Middle Ages until today. Available at: Via University College, Horsens Campus, Denmark.

Rouă,Victor.(2016),The dockyards, ‘Architecture In The Viking Age: Urban Planning, Emporia, And Strongholds’ Available at: 

Welch, Adrian. Aarhus main station, Denmark Available at:

(2022) Architecture of cities. Available at:


Salma sultana graduated master’s in architecture from the Iuav university of architecture Italy, born in 1992, and obtained her bachelor's from India, she works for her own architecture practice named Zahaa designs. She likes to be a curator of architecture exhibitions also curated for the la biennale exhibition in Arsenale in Venezia. She a Ph.D. student of a german university in Brandenburg working on historical architecture conservation her final achievement in the field of architecture is to create an innovative sustainable solution for concrete and bring awareness by joining a teaching profession in the sustainable architecture department.