Medieval churches in Gotland

Kräklingbo Church

The choir and its apse-like projection to the east are the oldest parts of Kräklingbo Church. This part of the church originally formed the nave and choir of an earlier church; an inscription mentions its inauguration in 1211. The present nave and sacristy were built around 1300, and thus incorporated these earlier elements. The east window in the apse-like projection dates from the reconstruction circa 1300. The two mai ...
Founded: 1211 | Location: Kräklingbo, Sweden

Träkumla Church

Träkumla stone church was preceded by a wooden church on the same site. The oldest part of the now visible church at Träkumla is the rectangular choir, which was built at the middle of the 13th century. The nave was added slightly later. The church was intended to have a tower; thick walls at the western end of the nave indicate that preparations were made for the erection of a tower, but it was never executed. The pres ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Träkumla, Sweden

Vall Church

Vall Church is a largely Romanesque church that dates from the 13th century. It was built in three phases. Oldest is the choir with the apse, and the nave, dating from the early part of the century. The tower was begun during the middle of the century and made higher at the end of the century. The church is a relatively well-preserved Romanesque building, with a tower that is unusually tall in comparison with similar chu ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Vall, Sweden

Anga Church

Anga church, built in the 1200s, is one of the smallest in Gotland. The interior is richly decorated by master Halvard. The altar date from the 14th century and triumph cruficix from the 15th century. The pulpi was made in the late 1600s. There is a runic inscription in the northern wall listing peasants, who worked in the construction.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Katthammarsvik, Sweden

Öja Church

The chancel and apsis of Öja Church were built in the early 13th century. The high tower, used as a landmark for seafarers, was completed in the middle 1300’s by building master Egypticus. The mural paintings, made in different centuries, are worth seeing. The most beautiful artefact in the church is a cross made around 1275.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Gotland, Sweden

Gothem Church

Gothem church is one of the biggest in Gotland. The oldest part, apsis and sacristy date from the 1200s. The tower was completed around 1350. It was damaged by lightning in the 19th century and restored. The church bell is the largest medieval one in Gotland, made in 1374. The interior is decorated with mural paintings dating from the 14th century. There are remains of the older church outside and also a defence tower bu ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Gothem, Sweden

Barlingbo Church

The current Barlingbo Church was erected between 1225-1250 but the foundation of an older church building has been found from the nave floor. The large rosette window in west wall is an unique detail. The interior is decorated with frescoes made in the 13th and 14th century. The font from the 1100s is also beautifully carved. The pulpit dates back to 1673 and sandstone-made altar screen to 1683.
Founded: 1225-1250 | Location: Visby, Sweden

Vamlingbo Church

In the Medieval Period, Vamlingbo was the largest parish in the south of Gotland. A stone church was built here at a very early date. Remains of the original church can still be seen by way of sculptures that have been incorporated in the south wall of the nave of the new church. The baptismal font is also from the original church. The present church was built of sandstone in the 13th century. The steeple was struck by l ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Burgsvik, Sweden

Sanda Church

The oldest part of the church is the tower, dating from the middle of the 13th century. The nave is from the beginning of the 14th century, while the choir dates from the middle of the same century. There was an earlier church on the same spot, elements of which have been incorporated as building material in the presently visible church. The church is richly decorated inside with frescos dating from the Middle Ages. They ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Sanda, Sweden

Lärbro Church

Lärbro Church was probably built between 1260-1280. The unusual octagonal steeple was erected in the 1300s. The interior date made mainly from the times after Reformation. The murals in the church vaults are originals. In the chancel floor, by the chancel portal, there is a tombstone in memory of Nicolaus (Nils) Taksten from 1274. To the west of church is a defence tower, which dates from the 12th century. I ...
Founded: 1260-1280 | Location: Lärbro, Sweden

Eke Church

The current Eke Church with its Romanesque nave and Gothic tower was predated by a stave church on the same location, fragments of which was found under the floor of the presently visible church in 1916. The stave church had been decorated with paintings in Byzantine style. The oldest part of the current building is the nave and choir, dating from the mid-13th century. The disproportionally massive tower was added in c. 1 ...
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Havdhem, Sweden

Sjonhem Church

The oldest part of the Sjonhem church is the tower, which was built in the 13th century. Originally it was attached to a much smaller Romanesque church. The choir and nave was however torn down and replaced with the current structure during the middle of the 13th century. Inside, church frescos decorate the vaults; these also date from the 13th century. Also probably original are some stained glass windows. A crucifix on ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Sjonhem, Sweden

Östergarn Church

Östergarn church is a little 13th century church where the tower of was never built. It was burnt by the Swedes in 1565 during the Nordic Seven Years" War, whereat all medieval fittings were destroyed. It was also sacked by the Russians in 1715 and 1717. In a grave in the church yard lie the German seamen who fell on board the cruiser Albatross, when she was compelled by superior Russian forces to run ashore near t ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Östergarn, Sweden

Fröjel Church

The tower of Fröjel Church was originally built in the 1100’s and other parts in the 14th century. The tower, made for defensive purposes, is today ruined. Between the lychgate and the church is located a maze, called “trojeborg”, of unknown age. There are mural paintings in chancel dating from the 14th century. The triumph crucifix was made around 1300 and the foundation of font date from the 12th ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Klintehamn, Sweden

Västerhejde Church

The church was built in Romanesque style during the 13th century, but underwent some changes during the 19th century. The southern portal was then removed, and the spire of the tower changed from its original, pointed design to its presently visible crow-stepped design, traditionally not found on churches of Gotland. The altarpiece, pulpit and pews date from the 17th century. An oil painting by Fredrik Westin that hangs i ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Västerhejde, Sweden

Klinte Church

The oldest part of Klinte Church is the base of the tower, which is from the first half of the 13th century and built in a decidedly Romanesque style. It is the only remaining part of an earlier, Romanesque church. Around the year 1300, the choir and nave of this church was replaced by the presently visible, Gothic choir and nave. During this time the upper part of the tower was also added. Externally, the base of the to ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Klintehamn, Sweden

Viklau Church

Viklau Church choir and nave were built in the late 12th century. The medieval church was completed with tower in the mid-13th century.  The sacristy was added in 1852-1853. One of Sweden's most well-known medieval sculptures, the Viklau Madonna, originally belonged to the church (now in the Swedish History Museum).
Founded: c. 1170 | Location: Viklau, Sweden

Rone Church

Rone church originate from the 1200s and it was built in a Romanesque style. The present appearance was constructed around the year 1300. Mural paintings in vaults were made also in the 14th century and the ones in main nave about a century later. There is an exceptional rich interior in Rone Church. The church bell, made in 1345, is the oldest in Gotland. The pulpit was made in 1595, the font and epitaph in 1664.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Gotland, 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

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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hochosterwitz Castle

Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.

The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.

In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.

Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.

About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.

Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.

A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.