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Skagen, Denmark

The Sand-Covered Church

Tiring of digging out the door to this historic church for every service it was eventually abandoned to the sands. 

Rising out of the sands in Skagen, Denmark, the remaining tower of a once prosperous chapel now known simply as the Sand-Covered Church (or Buried Church, or Old Skagen Church) is a testament to the unstoppable power of nature.

Neither man nor God could save the church that was originally dedicated to Saint Lawrence of Rome. First built in the 14th century the brick chapel was the largest church in the region during its heyday. However around 1600, increasing desertification began taking its toll on the building. Rising levels of sand began to bury the foundations faster than they could be dug out, while sand found its way to the interior of the aging church through every crack and crevice. By the late 1700s the door was almost completely covered and had to be dug out regularly just to hold services.

Despite the ever increasing issues with the church as it fell deeper and deeper into the sands, the owners of the church refused to let it be closed down. The tapestries and furniture were removed from the interior lest they be buried, and it was not until 1795 and with the permission of the King of Denmark that the Sand-Covered Church was finally closed. Most of the church was demolished, leaving around nine feet of wall standing, these were quickly wiped from the landscape by the shifting dunes. The tall main tower was left to jut from the sands, and it is this brick monolith that remains to this day.

The Sand-Covered Church has been white-washed over the years and ownership transferred to a historical society, but the historic tower remains otherwise unaltered. The tower can be entered on certain days of the year and the view from the windows is a reminder of the building that lies beneath.