Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Kristiansand Domkirke church

The Kristiansand Cathedral has existed since the 1800's and the church as it is today, is the fourth version. The first version was a small wooden local church, second was a Cathedral in wood and third was a stone cathedral which burned down in 1880. This was eventually replaced with the current version.
The top of the spire of the church from the ground up is 70 metres high which is the same length of the church overall. 
The church gardens have flowers that are regularly attended to from roughly April until October.
The church was designed by German architect, Henrik Thrap-Meyer who also designed the Lillesand and Grimstad churches as well as Victoria terrasse in Oslo.

During World War 2, the top spire was blown up by a stray cannon round and it is rumoured that the original one is located in someone’s backyard here in Kristiansand.
The church is very solidly built, all of the windows frames and intact and nothing has bent or swayed over the years. The windows are actually due to be replaced and the new ones are ready to be put in. Today, the church has 230 steps from the bottom to the top of the spire. 
The church is actually built on sand, wet sand. So as long as the water table stays at it is, the church will have no problems. If it rises, then there will be water in the basement, but if it dries, then cracks and movement will start to appear. However, the same goes for most of Kristiansand, so the church is not alone.
The bells are all set on electric timers and the bells can be rung manually. There are 36 bells all of which are connected electronically to a computer and an organ.
I always felt intrigued by the size of the church, so one day I ventured in there and asked if I could take some pictures. I met the organ player Andrew Wilder who offered to take me to the top spire to overlook the city. Of course I could not refuse such an invitation.

As we walked up the 230 steps to the top, I could not help but wonder what it was like back in the 1800s. My guess, is that it was no different. The wood has been kept in perfect condition because it is regularly treated with copper sulphate to prevent rotting and fungus. You can smell it as you wander up the steps.

I am from Britain, but have lived in Norway since 1984. I am an organ player which brought me and my wife and two kids to Norway looking for an organ playing job. I have lived in Arendal and Tønsberg and eventually came to Kristiansand in 1996. I am a full time employed organ player and there is also another part time organ player here at the church.
A little less than two years ago, we replaced the old organ that was here. It was awful to play and actually put me in hospital a few times. I had two operations on each wrist and two artificial discs in my neck from having pounded this old beast of an organ which did not really give any musical results. We had no choice though, we had to use it.
I did not know it was the organ doing damage to my body until my physiotherapist told me I need to stop playing the organ because it was slowly killing me!

The local government then closed off the organ which was eventually replaced by a 12 million kroner organ which is a pleasure to play.
We have special half hour promenade concert for the visitors from the cruise ships.

Whenever there is a British ship that docks in Kristiansand, I ask them if they would like to sing a psalm, something like “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah”. Some of the ships even have a choir on board who rehearse a song before they arrive here at the church.
We get visitors from all over the world – Spanish, Italians, French, Germans, Americans, Australians, it is wonderful to meet so many people from different cultures.

The Kristiansand church is open to the public from Monday to Friday from 1100 to 1400. 
Part of the interview was posted on the Humans of Kristiansand website. 

Adam Read
Visit Sørlandet

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