As the Danish architect Lauritz de Thurah in 1748 projected a spire to Our Saviour's Church in Christianshavn he created a piece of architecture which is regarded as a masterpiece of the baroque. But how could a provinsial outpost as Copenhagen create such a marvel? And why did Thurah choose a spiral as a motif?

STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN is an entertaining, informative and poetic documentary. A part of Danish history filled with drama and intrigues. And a documentation of the craftmanship of the recent restauration, almost as when it was originally built.

And then you will hear about how the architect died. Did he really jump from the spire because he detected that it was winding the wrong way?


BIOGRAPHY of the Danish baroque architect Lauritz de Thurah, creator of the Spiral Spire of Our Saviour’s Church:

Lauritz de Thurah, born 1706, is regarded as one of Denmark’s leading 18th century architects. Thurah starts his military career as a fortification engineer, but the king gives him a grant to enable him to make an almost two-year study tour of Germany, Austria, Italy, France, England and the Netherlands. On his travels he becomes deeply impressed by the baroque style and in particular the Swiss-born Italian architect Francesco Borromini, whose works in Rome are outstanding masterpieces of the late baroque, is to make a great impact on Thura’s subsequent work.

Back in Denmark, Thurah is soon appointed Royal Court Builder and creates several palaces and other buildings for the royal family. But only a few years after his return to Denmark, Thurah realises that his baroque style is becoming outdated. The rococo is henceforth to be the chosen court style, a style which Thurah dislikes and feels to be inferior in comparison with the rich possibilities of the baroque. Instead he concentrates on architectural history and publishes The Danish Vitruvius.

Some years later, in 1748, Thurah is suddenly asked to construct a new church spire for Our Saviour’s Church in Copenhagen. By means of some shrewd manoeuvres he succeeds in convincing the new King Frederik V that his own untraditional spire will cast glory upon the king’s reign. His proposal is accepted and the construction of the new spire of Our Saviour’s Church is completed in 1752. This, Thurah’s chief oevre, has been loved ever since by all Danes.

Two years later Thurah acquires the highest ranking title of Royal Master Builder, which entails the responsability for all the royal court building activities. But in 1759 he dies, aged only 53, after a period of heavy work and stress.

Spiral minaretThe steeple of Our Saviour's Church