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History of the Abbey

Esrum Abbey

A building full of Danish history

Throughout the Middle Ages, from the arrival of the first monks in 1151 until the middle of the 16th century, Esrum Abbey held great power in society; religious, political and economic. The building that remains holds countless stories of human life over 900 years.

French monks come to Esrum

In 1151, a new culture arrives at Esrum. French monks from the Cistercian Order spread across most of Europe, and Esrum is one of the chosen places. The area is made for the Cistercians: they are always founding new abbeys in remote river valleys where nature is rich in resources. The Cistercians receive the land from Archbishop Eskil of Lund. He is committed to strengthening ties with one of Europe’s most successful and powerful monastic orders.

Who was the Cistercian Order?

The monks at Esrum Abbey were Cistercians. An order that originated in France in the year 1098. They originate from an already existing monastic order; the Benedictines. The Cistercians wanted to live a rule-bound life that, in addition to prayer, also focused more on the work of the hand. They lived under the motto Ora et Labora – Pray and work. They lived by the Rule of Benedict – a book with 73 rules for monastic life.

The heyday of the abbey

Read more about Danish medieval monasteries

The king takes over the abbey

Read more about the Reformation

Royal horses and milling

Read more about the history of Danish mills

A home for people and objects

Read more about the history of the monastery building on Trap Danmark

The Colonel's home opens to the public

Read about our vision

Human footprints through 900 years