Medieval churches in Finland

St. Catherine's Church

The Church of St. Catherine in Nummi suburb represents the medieval church building tradition. The construction began in the 1340s, the sacristy was completed first and the church later. Bishop Hemming and Bishop Thomas of Växjö consecrated the church on 22 January 1351.Finnish National Board of Antiquities has named the church site as a national built heritage.
Founded: 1351 | Location: Turku, Finland

The Church of St. Michael

Pernaja medieval stone church was built between years 1410 and 1440 to the place of previous wooden church. The interior was completed during centuries: there are for example a christening pool from the 1300s, a crusifix from 1400s and pulpit from the 17th century. Beautiful chalk paintings in walls are dated back to 1440s.
Founded: 1410-1440 | Location: Pernaja, Finland

The Church of St. Michael

The old church of Pälkäne dates back to the beginning of 16th century. During reformation it was modified to meet the requirements of new religious policies. For example wooden statues of Catholic saints were removed. Church was robbed by the Russian troops during the Greater Wrath in 1714-1721. Church started to dilapidate during the 1740s and it was finally abandoned when new church was completed in 1839. The roof co ...
Founded: 1495-1505 | Location: Pälkäne, Finland

St. Katherine's Church

The Karjaa church is a typical medieval stone church in Southern Finland. Building time has been dated to the last half of the 15th century, probably 1465-1470. The bell tower was built in 1768. There are some wooden statues, coat of arms and chalk paintings visible inside the church.
Founded: 1465-1470 | Location: Raasepori, Finland

The Church of St. Mary

The Pohja Church was built between years 1475-1480 to replace a previous wooden church which was destroyed by fire. There are 12 medieval statues, 11 coat of arms and some chalk paintings inside the church.
Founded: 1475-1480 | Location: Raasepori, Finland

St. Henry's Church

The first evidence of Pyhtää as an independent parish dates back to 1380. At that time already the parish had a church, but it is not known where it was situated or what it looked like. Until 1600 Pyhtää included, besides its present area, also half of the present city of Kotka, Ruotsinpyhtää, Elimäki, the western parts of Anjalankoski, and a part of Lapinjärvi.Dedicated to St. Henr ...
Founded: 1460 | Location: Pyhtää, Finland

The Church of St. Mary

There are only ruins remaining of the medieval church in Mustasaari, Vaasa. It was built probably between 1500-1520.
Founded: 1500-1520 | Location: Vaasa, Finland

Rymättylä Church

The greystone church of St. Jacob, built in 1510s, is one of the most attractive churches in Finland. The medieval interior is very well-preserved, including wall paintings and several artefacts. The oldest item, a beautiful wooden statue with original colours from the 1350's is known as the smiling James of Rymättylä. Finnish National Board of Antiques has named the church site as national built heritage.
Founded: 1510 | Location: Naantali, Finland

The Church of St. John

The grey stone church of Hauho was built probably at the beginning of 16th century. The present sacristy made of bricks replaced the old medieval one 1783-1784. The bell tower was built in 1811. The church bells were moved over to the new church in 1885. There are several medieval wooden statues in the church, for example St. Peter and St. Anna.
Founded: 1500-1520 | Location: Hauho, Finland

The Old Church of Isokyrö

One of the major sights in Isokyrö area is the massive grey stone church, which was built probably between 1513-1533. Dedicated to St. Laurence, this church has been the spiritual centre of the greater Pohjankyrö area.
Founded: 1513-1533 | Location: Storkyro, Finland

The Church of St. Peter

The Siuntio Church was built probably between 1460-1489 and it's dedicated to St. Peter. The roof paintings representing stories of Bible were made in the early 16th century by German or Baltic artists. The church is damaged by fire four times, but paintings are fortunately survived.
Founded: 1460-1489 | Location: Siuntio, Finland

Taivassalo Church

Taivassalo Church is the oldest of the three medieval stone churches in Finland that are dedicated to the Holy Cross. The construction of the church is believed to have begun between the years 1425 to 1440. In 1460s, the third aisle was built and the inner walls were decorated with new murals. It was the first time in Finland that frescos were painted to nearly all important surfaces of a church by a group of professi ...
Founded: 1425-1440 | Location: Taivassalo, Finland

Kaarlela Church

Kaarlela church was built around years 1500-1530. It was modified to the present cross shape during the 18th century by local vicar Anders Chydenius. One of the oldest pulpits in Finland is placed inside the church. It was brought from Sweden by vicar Jacob Skepperus in 1622.
Founded: 1500-1530 | Location: Kokkola, Finland

Kirkkonummi Church

The medieval Kirkkonummi brick church was built in the 15th century. The local parish was established in 1240 and there have been several wooden churches at the same site before. The present church has been renovated and modified several times. In 1570s Russian soldiers damaged church and it was burnt by lightning. Next renovations were made in 1637 and again in the 19th century.
Founded: 1400-1490 | Location: Kirkkonummi, Finland

Alatornio Church

The first church in the island was made of wood and it's said to have existed already in 1316. It has been one of the northest churches in Scandinavia in medieval time. The stone church was built 1500-1513. Today only the eastern nave is still existing. Church was modified to the present shape during 1794-97 by architect Jacob Rijf.
Founded: 1500-1513 | Location: Tornio, Finland

St Mary's Church

The St. Mary's Church is a medieval stone church located in Maaria. There are no records as to when the present church was built, but the work was probably started in the mid or late 15th century. According to Markus Hiekkanen, the church was probably built in the 1440s. On the basis of the style of the closets, the gables were constructed about 50 years later. There are medieval limestone paintings on the walls, which a ...
Founded: 1440 | Location: Turku, Finland

Mynämäki Church

The Church of St. Lawrence in Mynämäki is the second biggest medieval church in Finland. The sacristy, oldest part of the church, is dated back to the 13th century. The church itself was quite probably erected in the beginning of 15th century to replace the previous wooden church. It was expanded in 1600s and again in 1770s. There are couple of old artefacts inside the church, for example wooden epitah from year ...
Founded: 1425-1440 | Location: Mynämäki, Finland

The Church of St. Mary

The stone church of Hollola was built between 1495-1510 during the third wave of Finnish grey stone churches. Church is one of the biggest medieval churches in Finland and important medieval landmark in Päijät-Häme area. According to Reformation policies, the interior was remodeled in the 17th century. Archeologists have found remains of the Iron Age settlement around the church. Area has been some kind of administrat ...
Founded: 1495-1510 | Location: Hollola, Finland

St. Peter's church

The Lieto Church was built probably in the end of 15th century. The earliest record of Lieto parish dates back to the year 1331, when local vicar Pietari (Peter) was a witness in tax trial between Turku bishop and Häme (Tavastia) people. The stone church represents simple Finnish church architecture. The belfry was added in 1766 and the Neo-Gothic styled apse in 1902.
Founded: 1470-1500 | Location: Lieto, Finland

Perniö Church

The Perniö Church was built in the 15th century, probably in 1460-1480. It's dedicated to St. Lawrence (as well as many medieval churches in Finland). The interior contains mural paintings made by the school of famous artist Petrus Henriksson from the end of 15th century. There are also seven limestone tombs inside the church. The belfry was erected in 1746.National Board of Antiquities has named the church site as n ...
Founded: 1460-1480 | Location: Perniö, Finland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Wawel Castle

Wawel Hill – a Jurassic limestone rock, a dominant feature in the landscape of Kraków, have provided a safe haven for people who have settled here since the Paleolithic Age. It is supposed that the Slav people started living on Wawel hill as early as the 7th century. Early medieval legends tell stories about a dreadful dragon that lived in a cave on Wawel Hill, about his slayer Krakus, and about the latter’s daughter Wanda, who drowned herself in the Vistula rather than marry a German knight. Towards the end of the first millennium A.D Wawel began to play the role of the centre of political power.In the 9th century it became the principal fortified castrum of the Vislane tribe. The first historical ruler of Poland, Miesco I (c.965-992) of the Piast dynasty as well as his successors: Boleslas the Brave (992-1025) and Miesco II (1025-1034) chose Wawel Hill as one of their residences.

At that time Wawel became one of the main Polish centres of Christianity. The first early Romanesque and Romanesque sacral buildings were raised here, including a stone cathedral that was erected after the bishopric of Kraków was established in the year 1000.

During the reign of Casimir the Restorer (1034-1058) Wawel became a significant political and administrative centre for the Polish State. Casimir’s son, Boleslas the Bold (1058-1079) began the construction of a second Romanesque cathedral, which was finished by Boleslas the Wrymouth (1102-1138). In his last will of 1138, this prince divided Poland into districts, and provided that Kraków was to be the residence of the senior prince. In 1291 the city of Kraków along with Wawel Hill temporarily fell under the Czech rule, and Wenceslas II from the Premysl dynasty was crowned King of Poland in Wawel cathedral.

In 1306 the Duke of Kuyavia Ladislas the Short (1306-1333) entered Wawel and was crowned King of Poland in the Cathedral in 1320. It was the first historically recorded coronation of a Polish ruler on Wawel Hill. Around that time, at the initiative of Ladislas the Short, the construction of the third Gothic cathedral began, the castle was expanded and the old wooden and earthen fortifications were replaced by brick ones. The tomb of Ladislas the Short in the cathedral started a royal necropolis of Polish kings in Krakow.The last descendant of the Piast dynasty, Casimir the Great (1333-1370) brought Wawel to a state of unprecedented splendour. In 1364 the expanded gothic castle witnessed the marriage of Casimir’s granddaughter Elizabeth to Charles IV accompanied by a famous convention of kings and princes, subsequently entertained by a rich burgher Wierzynek. The accession to the throne in 1385 of Jadwiga from the Hungarian dynasty of Andegavens, and her marriage to a Lithuanian prince Ladislas Jagiello (1386-1434) started another era of prosperity for Wawel. The royal court employed local and western European artists and also Rus painters. During the reign of Casimir Jagiellon (1447-1492) the silhouette of the hill was enriched by three high brick towers: the Thieves’ Tower, the Sandomierz Tower and the Senatorial Tower. The first humanists in Poland and tutors to the king’s sons: historian Jan Długosz and an Italian by the name Filippo Buonacorsi (also known as Callimachus) worked there at that time.

The Italian Renaissance arrived at Wawel in the early 16th century. King Alexander (1501-1506) and his brother Sigismund I the Old (1506-1548) commissioned the construction of a new palace in place of the Gothic residence, with an impressive large courtyard with arcaded galleries which was completed about 1540. Sigismund’s patronage also left an indelible impression in the cathedral, where a family chapel was erected, known today as Sigismund’s Chapel - the work of Bartolomeo of Berrecci Florence, and through various foundations, one of which was that of a large bell, called the Sigismund to commemorate the king. Close artistic and cultural relations with Italy were strengthened in 1518 by the king’s marriage to Bona Sforza. Alongside Italian artists, German architects, wood workers, painters and metal smiths worked for the king. The last descendant of the Jagiellonian dynasty, Sigismund II Augustus (1548-1572), enriched the castle’s interiors with a magnificent collection of tapestries woven in Brussels. In the “Golden Age” of Polish culture Wawel became one of the main centres of humanism in Europe.

The reign of Sigismund III Waza (1587-1632) also made a strong impression on the history of Wawel. After a fire in the castle in 1595 the king rebuilt the burned wing of the building in the early Baroque style. The relocation of the royal court to Warsaw was the cause of a slow but nevertheless steady deterioration in the castle’s condition. The monarchs visited Kraków only occasionally. Restoration of the castle was undertaken during the reign of John III Sobieski, the Wettins and Stanislas Augustus to counteract neglect.

After Poland had lost its independence in 1795, the troops of partitioning nations, Russia, Prussia and Austria, subsequently occupied Wawel which finally passed into the hands of the Austrians. The new owners converted the castle and some of the secular buildings into a military hospital, and demolished some others, including churches. After the period of the Free City of Kraków (1815-1846) Wawel was once more annexed by Austria and turned into a citadel dominating the city. By the resolution passed by the Seym of Galicia in 1880, the castle was presented as a residence to the Emperor of Austria Franz Josef I. The Austrian troops left the hill between 1905-1911. At the turn of the 20th century a thorough restoration of the cathedral was conducted, and shortly afterwards a process of restoration of the royal castle began which lasted several decades.

When Poland regained its independence in 1918, the castle served as an official residence of the Head of State, and as a museum of historic interiors. During the Nazi occupation the castle was the residence of the German governor general, Hans Frank. Polish people managed to remove the most valuable objects, including the tapestries and the “Szczerbiec” coronation sword to Canada, from where they returned as late as 1959-1961. At present, the main curators of Wawel are Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collection and the Metropolitan Basilica Board on Wawel Hill.