Mandal Church (Mandal Kirke) – just white, just big, just there
With the preparation for this trip, I became curious about the south coast of Norway with its picturesque and dreamlike harbor towns. We are particularly interested in such places out of season, because for us they are much more than the hunt for tourist highlights. Now we are on the tourist road ourselves, so traveling. The more exciting is the question of whether there is a place on the way where we could imagine staying. The Mandal Church (Mandal kirke) is such a place, and by the way also the largest wooden church in Norway.
First out of stone, then out of wood (and a little bit of stone) – Mandal kirke
We actually know that wooden churches were replaced by stone churches in the Scandinavian countries, here in Mandal it is exactly the opposite when it comes to the development of the Mandal Church. In this case, the reason for exchanging a stone church for a wooden church was unfortunately a drama that was often encountered at the time.
Because in 1810 there was a devastating fire in Mandal. There was no fire brigade at that time, but there might be fresh winds that would spread the fire from one house to the other. Above all, the dense wooden construction quickly creates an inferno. The fire in Lærdal in January 2014 showed how quickly this can happen, despite the fact that large parts of a place are destroyed despite modern emergency services.
Back to Mandal. The fire rages and develops such a great heat that it does not stop at the stone church in the middle of the small town. After the remains have cooled a few days after the fire in Mandal, everything is really destroyed.
But Mandal as the southernmost town on the coast of Norway is too important to be abandoned and almost defiantly it is being rebuilt. Mandal is being completely redesigned. The largest wooden church in Norway is now being built in its heart in modern architecture at that time. But in a different place, because on the old market square, where the stone church used to be, there is no space for such dimensions.
There is enough wood in the area and so the church builders set up a huge half-timbered framework for the construction of the Mandal Church (Mandal Kirke), the gaps between which they are then bricked up. Inside, this construction is visible in the area of the tower and in the hallway behind the pulpit. They have created excellent insulation on the sometimes stormy coast, which is quite cold in winter. A complete outer cladding made of wood is part of the design of the Mandal kirke, so the facade is paneled.
Confident and modern – the Mandal Church (Mandal kirke)
The works for the new Mandal kirke were transferred to the architect Jørgen Gerhard Løser in 1819, who incorporated the Empire style in his design, a very young and current art movement coming from France. This, in turn, can be assigned to classicism and so the church is created in the classicist style. In 1821, the first specially created monumental building, the Mandal Church, was handed over to the municipality after Norway’s independence from Denmark in 2014.
Inner beauty of the Mandal Church (Mandal Kirke)
Finally the faithful can enter and admire the imposing colonnade with which the choir connects. The central nave and choir are covered by a barrel vault, supported by the colossal columns.
In the two aisles are the galleries that connect to the organ gallery above the main entrance.
Above the altar opposite is the cylindrical main pulpit, emphasized with a small gable.
The service room welcomes us modestly reserved and minimalist. The walls are whitewashed, the gray benches are accented with brown and green elements. The columns have been painted with a marble-like structure, and the gallery is also painted simply gray. Originally, the church builder wanted to use biblical motifs here, but the simple overall impression could not have been better.
A real peculiarity of the Mandal Kirke (Mandal Church) is the original picture “Resurrection” by A. Tidemann. It is said to be Norway’s most copied picture.
On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Mandal Kirke, this church is given a melodious organ that generates 2,119 different tones from 32 voices. However, it is only put into operation in 1923. Due to the amount of air that is pushed through the organ pipes, it has a delay of about a quarter of a second. Due to the unique and quite modern construction, the organ of the Mandal Kirke still works without any renovation.
The inner size of the Mandal Church (Mandal Kirke)
If you take a closer look at the Mandal Church (Mandal Kirke), you will come across different seat numbers. The information varies between 1,200 and 1,800 people who find space in the Mandal Kirke.
When the Mandal Kirke was built, its dimensions were gigantic in relation to the economic performance of the coastal town of Mandal and its inhabitants. Strictly speaking, 1,852 people are supposed to find space in the Mandal Kirke. But these numbers apply to the year 1821.
Over time, we humans have grown larger and wider, so fewer people fit into the pews. So today one assumes a space for about 1,200 people.
In fact, around 200 to 250 believers visit Mandal Church (Mandal Kirke) on normal Sundays.
Contrary to the trend, the number of active communities of the Mandal Kirke (Mandal Church) has increased continuously in recent years. Regardless, Mandal city dwellers love their church and are proud of their size.
Sunday is worship
So why not experience a real service instead of a photo content to check off all the popular sights and thus immerse yourself a little bit in the soul of the Mandal Church (Mandal Kirke) and also of Mandal itself?
Services are held every Sunday at 11:00 a.m.