Medieval churches in Gotland

Guldrupe Church

The oldest parts of Guldrupe church is the nave, dating from the late 12th century. Oak planks decorated with dragons have however been found on the site, and indicate that there may have existed an earlier, wooden church on the spot. The tower dates from the early 13th century, and from the end of the same century dates the un-proportionally large choir and sacristy. The choir replaced an earlier, smaller choir, but plan ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Guldrupe, Sweden

Lau Church

The first Christian church was probably a wooden church. Of this church there is no trace, but the baptismal font in the Church today has probably belonged to this church. In the 1220s a new stone church of considerable size was built in round-headed Romanesque style and consisted of a nave with four pillars, chancel with two cross-arms and apse, an extension in the rear of the chancel where the altar was placed. A large ...
Founded: 1220s | Location: Lau, Sweden

Näs Church

Näs church was built in the middle of the 13th century, and remains today largely unchanged. The interior was changed during a renovation made in 1910, and according to tradition the tower was originally higher. However, few of the original furnishings have survived. The altarpiece dates from 1692, and made in Burgsvik, while the pulpit is from the middle of the 18th century. The triumphal cross is a copy of a medieval ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Näs, Sweden

St. Hans' & St. Peter's Church Ruins

St. Hans and St. Peter churches were built side by side during the 1200s. St. Peter was consecrated to the apostle Peter. St. Hans, which was the larger church, was dedicated to St. John the Evangelist. It was where the Lutheran doctrine for the first time preached on the island. In 1527, however, Bishop Brask turned Lutherans out from the church. But as soon as the bishop sailed to Denmark, Lutherans worships were starte ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Visby, Sweden

Endre Church

The present Endre church was preceded by an older, Romanesque church. Of this church, only the tower, built in the 12th century, remains. A few stone sculptures have also been re-used in the later church, e.g. one sculpture depicting a dragon and another a lion. These are now immured in the southern façade of the church. The rest of the church dates from the 13th century (the choir and sacristy) and the early 14th (the n ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Endre, Sweden

Lye Church

The main nave of Lye Church originate from the 12th century. The tower has dated to the year 1240 and the chancel was built in the early 1300s. The interesting detail is a stone-made relic chect made in the 1100s. There are also several mural paintings and artefacts made during the Middle Ages. The pulpit was added in 1705.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Lye, Sweden

Hamra Church

Hamra Church was built from the mid-13th century to early 14th century. The retable of sandstone dates from 1792. The triumph crucifix and font dates from the Middle Ages.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hamra, Sweden

Visby Cathedral

Visby Cathedral (also known as St. Mary’s Church) is the only survived medieval church in Visby. It was originally built for German merchants and inaugurated in 1225. Around the year 1350 the church was enlarged and converted into a basilica. The two-storey magazine was also added then above the nave as a warehouse for merchants. There is not much left of the original interior. The font is made of local red marble ...
Founded: 1225 | Location: Visby, Sweden

Ala Church

Ala Church was originally built in the 12th century as so-called apse chapel, a small round building. The tower and present apsis were added around 1250. The interior was destroyed by fire in 1938. Some frescos were restored later. The limestone font, made in the mid-1200s, survived from fire and the pulpit (1663) was moved from Björke Church.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ala, Sweden

Rute Church

The oldest part of the Rute church is the choir, built c. 1230. The nave was built around ten years later, while the tower and the west portal were the last parts of the church to be built. The church was decorated with frescos inside during the late Middle Ages. These were executed by the artist known as the Master of the Passion of Christ and were rediscovered during a renovation in 1951. The church ceiling is supported ...
Founded: c. 1230 | Location: Rute, Sweden

Tofta Church

The earliest church on this location in Tofta was probably built during the end of the 12th century. The oldest part of the presently visible church is the tower. The nave and choir both date from the middle of the 14th century. The church walls display fragments of medieval frescos that were found during a restoration in 1958-1959. A few medieval stained glass windows are likewise preserved in the church. Of the furnish ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Tofta, Sweden

Bäl Church

The current Bäl church was built during the first half of the 13th century and replaced an earlier stone church on the same site, fragments of which still remain in the wall between the choir and nave. Of the presently visible church, the choir is the oldest part, with the nave and tower being built successively. Paintings were added in the 13th century through 15th centuries. For some reason, the tower was never finishe ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Bäl, Sweden

Vänge Church

The Romanesque church tower is the oldest part of the church. It was built circa 1200. Originally it was attached to a Romanesque church, the nave and choir of which however was replaced with the presently visible Gothic parts at the end of the 13th century. The sacristy is the only non-medieval part of the church; it was built in 1866. The exterior of the church is decorated with Romanesque reliefs, re-used from the earl ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Vänge, Sweden

Bro Church

The first church in Bro was built during the 12th century in Romanescue style. The next church was completed in 1236 and it represented the Gothic style. In the reconstruction around 1300 the nave was demolished and replaced with the present one. In the Middle Ages Bro church was a destination for pilgrimages, because very important relic, an “original” piece of Jesus Christ’s cross was kept there. The p ...
Founded: 1236 | Location: Visby, Sweden

Dalhem Church

The nave and chancel of Dalhem Church were contructed in the early 1200s. It was enlarged some decades later by the workshop of master Egypticus. Murals were restored in the early 20th century. There is a beautiful tombstone in the northern wall from the 1100s.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Dalhem, Sweden

Garde Church

Garde Church was built originally in the mid-1100s. The apsis was added in the 14th century. The Gothic-style church is a good sample of medieval church building tradition in Sweden. The font and crucifix date from the first church, both were made in the 1100s. Pre-Christian picture stones, made between 400-1100 AD, have been found from Garde church during the restoration.
Founded: ca. 1150 | Location: Garde, Sweden

Fleringe Church

Fleringe Church dates from the 13th century, and the nave and choir are the oldest parts. Somewhat later during the same century the tower was added. The church has not been substantially altered since, but suffered damage in a heavy fire in 1676. The church is located in a cemetery surrounded by a low wall in which a remaining medieval lychgate still sits. Outside, the church stables still stand, which is uncommon. The ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Fleringe, Sweden

Ekeby Church

The oldest part of Ekeby Church is the Romanesque tower, dating from the end of the 12th century. The nave and choir were built around a century later in Gothic style. The tower was also heightened to its present height at the end of the 13th century. Most notable in the exterior of the church are the two southern portals, which are richly decorated with stone carvings. These were originally painted, and fragments of co ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ekeby, Sweden

Västergarn Church

The building of Västergarn Church was started around 1250, and it comprises no more than a chancel. Economic troubles put a stop to the building of the rest of the church. There is also a foundation of another church and the remains of a medieval defence tower.
Founded: ca.1250 | Location: Gotland, Sweden

Boge Church

Boge Church chancel was built in the 13th century and the tower was erected later during the same century. It collapsed in a strom in 1858 and was rebuilt between 1867-1892. The limestone font was made around 1250, pulpit in 1727 and altar screen in 1750.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Slite, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Bergenhus Fortress

Bergenhus fortress is one of the oldest and best preserved castles in Norway. It contains buildings dating as far back as the 1240s, as well as later constructions built as recently as World War II. The extent of the enclosed area of today dates from the early 19th century. In medieval times, the area of the present-day Bergenhus Fortress was known as Holmen (The islet), and contained the royal residence in Bergen, as well as a cathedral and several churches, the bishop's residence, and a Dominican monastery. Excavations have revealed foundations of buildings believed to date back to before 1100, which might have been erected by King Olav Kyrre. In the 13th century, until 1299, Bergen was the capital of Norway and Holmen was thus the main seat of Norway's rulers. It was first enclosed by stone walls in the 1240s.

Of the medieval buildings, a medieval hall and a defensive tower remain. The royal hall, today known as Haakon's Hall, built around 1260, is the largest medieval secular building in Norway. The defensive tower, known in the Middle Ages as the keep by the sea, was built around 1270 by King Magnus VI Lagabøte, and contained a royal apartment on the top floor. In the 1560s it was incorporated by the commander of the castle, Erik Rosenkrantz, into a larger structure, which is today known as the Rosenkrantz Tower.

In the Middle Ages, several churches, including the Christ Church, Bergen's cathedral, were situated on the premises. These however were torn down in the period 1526 to 1531, as the area of Holmen was converted into a purely military fortification under Danish rule. From around this time, the name Bergenhus came into use. Building work on the Christ Church probably started around 1100. It contained the shrine of saint Sunniva, the patron saint of Bergen and western Norway. In the 12th and 13th centuries it was the site of several royal coronations and weddings. It was also the burial site of at least six kings, as well as other members of the royal family. The site of its altar is today marked by a memorial stone.

In the 19th century, the fortress lost its function as a defensive fortification, but it was retained by the military as an administrative base. After restoration in the 1890s, and again after destruction sustained during World War II, Bergenhus is today again used as a feast hall for public events. During World War II, the German navy used several of its buildings for their headquarters, and they also constructed a large concrete bunker within the fortress walls. The buildings, including the Haakon's Hall, were severely damaged when a Dutch ship in the service of the German navy, carrying approximately 120 tons of dynamite, exploded on 20 April 1944 in the harbour just outside the fortress walls, but the buildings were later restored.

Bergenhus is currently under the command of the Royal Norwegian Navy, which has about 150 military personnel stationed there. The fortifications Sverresborg fortress and Fredriksberg fortress also lie in the centre of Bergen. Haakon's Hall and the Rosenkrantz Tower are open for visits by the public. Koengen, the central part of Bergenhus Fortress is also known as a concert venue.