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The Church of Skien

During the last generation several rescue-operations have been necessary to save the church of Skien. The air contamination caused a lot of crumbling problems for the face stone. Therefore a lot of bricks had to be replaced.

When the church was build - it was necessary to dig many huge wooden poles into the weak ground (more about this in the next paragraph).  Besides - during some decades - the groundwater-level lowered under the chuch,  which caused that several of the huge poles  and the timberraft fundament in the southern part of the church - started to rotten.  Thus entrapped air was created under parts of the building, and the church started to sag. This caused a lot of trouble, especially for the towerpart of the building, which is the heaviest part. An enormous job was done to secure the church, by establishing a layer of concrete upon the polelayer and the timber raft.

Historic facts:
Before building the church, there was a big dispute  where to place it – after the city-fire (1886). Some of the citizens wished to keep the old market-place-location, where all the churches had been located through centuries. Others wanted to move over to the Lie area – close to The Bank of Norway-building.

A very happy architect teamwork - including   Due, Hansteen and Schytte-Berg - presented a planned solution for the Lie-area. They won the architect-competition, and thereby the ctiy-hall-architect also designed the church.

Today the church is placed  high and free in the middle of the city. With two 68 metres high towers – it’s quite different from other Norwegian churches, and is established as Skiens identifier.

The unusual wide churchroad starting at the stairs in front of the church, makes a visible and dominating location, if you arrive Skien from the riverside. There is a throughgoing straight line – from the church, through the Ibsen-park along  Ibsen-road – down to the Bryggevannet at the northern end of the river. Viewing the church from the north, there is also a free and visible view. It would be a pity if  this wonderful churchbuilding should be packed in by huge  buildings, just for commercial motivation.

According to the monumental size ot this church, several theories have been discussed. It's not easy to say if those theories were real at that time, but here is one:
 There was a hope at that time that Skien should be defined as a bishopric area, inculding the bishop's office and administration. Therefore the church had to be a cathedral.

Referring the book about the church of Skien, written by Erik Kullerud (1994), page 47:

"There were lots of conversations according to the size of this church. The size  was based on the churchlaw at that time, telling that it should be possible for 2/10 of the population to take part in the service. The number of inhabitants was 7300, and therefore the church should have about 1500 seats. When the cathedral  was finished, 1400 persones could be seated.

This church is unique in more than one way. As the City Hall had to be built on timberrafts under water, the church had to be fundamented on huge poles – caused the failing ground. 1200 poles were knocked into the clay soil. By the way – it was a huge daring deed to build a that huge building on failing ground. It’s 47 metres long and the hight over the arch is 17 metres. 1400 people can be seated inside the church.  It’s not corious that they worked 8 years to finish the project in 1894. During these 8 years, Skien had a  temporary church in the chapel at the vicarage.

The churchinterior has caused many discussions. Especially the chantry.  But everyone loves the beatiful decorating glasspaintings  from the company Heinersdorff in Berlin, Deutchland. From the old burnt-down-church they saved pictures, the chantry-picture and the font.

Todays organ was projected by dome-architect Wilhelm Swensen. Possibly ranged by the three biggest organs in this country, containing 5200 pipes and 70 voices.

South-western view

Towards the chantry

Towards the organ 

Sist endret
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