The Jail behind the Church


When the Church of the Citadel was erected in 1704, it were a completely detached building. It had windows in both sides and in both ends. It must have been a beautiful and welllighted room.

The need for dungeons for all the many prisoners grew so big, however, that just few years later (1725-26) a new State Prison was built, not just near the church, but directly against it as seen on this survey from 1754.


When there is nothing to look at, they might just as well brick up the windows towards the jail, and so they did. Only a few small holes were left, so the prisoners could listen to the service without being seen themselves. One is shown beneath. Of course there was a fear that these holes might be used for smuggling something into the jail, so at all services, where the prisoners were allowed to listen, there were guards inside the church to take care that nothing was put through these holes. It was also feared that the prisoners could communicate with each other, so a row of iron doors were put in the aisle along the church wall, so they could be isolated from each other.


The prison itself was built as two two-storey buildings connected by a lower one-storey building as shown on the picture from 1858. (Illustreret Tidende).


The State Prison was actually only the southern building, which also housed the guardians flat, while the northern building housed the so-called “slaves” that were convicts used for all the dirty and dangerous work, that no-one else wanted to do. It was easy to end up as a slave. A lot of military punishments included a number of years as a slave in iron, and one coachman, who by accident caused his cart to tip over, killing a woman, was also convicted to two years as a slave.

When you look at the prison today, you should observe that until 1856 the rampart went all the way out to the pave way.  The cells must have been dark and damp before then, and originally there was no heating at all.

The lower building housed the guardsmen, who had their places just inside the door (the guards room is today the cell just to the right of the door), and also an office for the officer on duty. Due to lack of cells, the officer’s room was rather quickly turned into yet another cell, the first to the left from the door. This is the cell that housed count Struensee when he was arrested and placed in the Citadel, later to be beheaded, but this prison has been the scene for many sad fates, that cannot be described here. We recommend a guided tour via ”Kastellets Venner” ( where you might learn more about these.


A dungeon in the State Prison.