Medieval churches in Gotland

När Church

The oldest part of the presently visible church at När is the tower, erected at the middle of the 13th century. Originally, it was designed to be able to function as a defensive tower, with arrowslits still visible on the first floor. The present nave and choir of the church were added to the tower around the year 1300. Of an earlier, Romanesque church on the same site no traces remain today. Externally, the church has ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: När, Sweden

Sundre Church

Sundre Church was originally built as the church for a large farmstead. This first church was wooden, and built during the early 12th century. A few painted remains of the church have been preserved at the Museum of Gotland in Visby. They were painted by a Russian artist and the scene depicts the Last Judgement. It has been speculated whether the remains were originally parts of an iconostasis, given the Russian origin of ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Burgsvik, Sweden

Hellvi Church

The choir portal of Hellvi Church carries a runic inscription which proclaims that a man called Lafrans Botvidarson built the church. The oldest part of the church is the tower, Romanesque in style. The upper part of the tower collapsed following a storm in 1534, hence its unusual shape. The nave and choir date from the middle of the 13th century and display an early form of Gothic style. The nave consists of two aisles, ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hellvi, Sweden

Burs Church

The church in Burs derives its unusual shape from the fact that it was built in stages. The nave is the oldest part of the church, dating from the early 13th century. The large tower was built in the middle of the same century, while the un-proportionally large Gothic choir was built a century later, replacing an earlierRomanesque choir and apse. Externally, the church is noteworthy not least for its choir portal. The do ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Stånga, Sweden

Linde Church

Linde Church is a homogeneous Romanesque church. Construction of the presently visible church started in the late 12th century and was finished in the early 13th century. A single, large Gothic window was inserted in the eastern wall in the 14th century. The external nave and choir portals are both decorated with Romanesque sculptures. Inside, the church is decorated with frescos. On the northern wall is a set of paintin ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Linde, Sweden

Hejde Church

Hejde Church is a medieval Lutheran church in Hejde on the island of Gotland. The church tower and the nave are the oldest parts of Hejde Church, dating from the middle of the 13th century. The choir is about a century later and replaced an earlier and smaller Romanesque choir. Plans to also enlarge the nave and tower were never executed. The sacristy dates from 1795. The church has two decorated entrance portals on the ...
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Hejde, Sweden

Fole Church

The current Fole church was preceded by a Romanesque stone church. Of this church, the tower remains and is thus the oldest part of Fole Church, dating from ca. 1200. The Romanesque church was gradually replaced with the current, more Gothic church. During the middle of the 13th century, the choir and about half of the nave were rebuilt, and a few decades later, the rest of the nave. The rebuilt church was inaugurated in ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Fole, Sweden

Hemse Church

The current stone church in Hemse dates mainly from the 13th century. However, about a century earlier there was a stave church built at the same location. The surprisingly well-preserved stave church was found by chance under the floor of the stone church during a restoration in 1896, where the wooden planks of the church had served as an earlier floor. The wooden church, known as Hemse stave church, is the most well-pre ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hemse, Sweden

Hall Church

Hall Church is a medieval Lutheran church in Hall on the Swedish island of Gotland. Hall Church dates from the 13th century. Oldest are the nave and choir, built in the second quarter of the century. The tower is somewhat later. Stylistically it is transitional between Romanesque and Gothic architecture. With one central column and four bays, forming two aisles, the nave of the church is the simplest structure fitting the ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hall, Sweden

Levide Church

Levide Church is a largely Romanesque church of a character unique for the countryside of Gotland. Parts of the choir, notably the area around the portal, is however comparable to the northern portal of Visby Cathedral in Visby, the main town of the island. The oldest parts of the church are the aforementioned choir with its apse, dating from the late 12th century. The nave dates from the early 13th century while the tow ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Levide, Sweden

Tingstäde Church

A wooden church was built on the site of the current one in Tingstäde during the early 12th century. The church has later been replaced by first a Romanesque church, of which the portals survive, and later once more rebuilt in Gothic style during the 13th and 14th centuries. Few alterations have been made to the church since. The church was one of three so-called asylum churches on Gotland during the Middle Ages, a ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Tingstäde, Sweden

Stånga Church

The oldest parts of Stånga Church were built in the 12th century. The middle nave date from the early 1300s and it was designed by master Egypticus. The font, made by master Hegvald, date from the 12th century and crucifix from the late 13th century.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Gotland, Sweden

Grötlingbo Church

Grötlingbo church was built in the early 1200s and it was sanctified to St. Luke the Evangelist in 1296. The present nave and apsis were added in the mid-1300s. The tower date from the first church. The pulpit, made in 1548, was originally situated in the Visby Cathedral and brought to Grötlingbo in 1699. The font and triumph crucifix date from the 13th century.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Grötlingbo, Sweden

Gerum Church

The oldest parts of Gerum Church are the choir and apse, dating from circa 1200 and Romanesque in style. The presently visible, Gothic nave dates from a later time of the 13th century and probably replaced an earlier, Romanesque nave. The tower, which was never finished, was built circa 1300. The only non-medieval part of the church is the sacristy, built in 1835. Gerum Church is constructed of limestone. The exterior is ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Gerum, 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

Othem Church

Othem church was built in Romanesque style in the 13th century to the site of older 12th century church. There are medieval frescoes in walls from the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. The altarpiece dates from 1693 and pulpit from 1730s. 
Founded: 13th century | Location: Slite, 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

Sproge Church

The presently visible stone church at Sproge dates from the 13th century. The nave and choir are the oldest parts of the church, built during the first half of the century. The tower was added at the end of the same century. On the south facade of the church there is a plaque claiming the construction date of the church to be 1058, but this date appears to be pure fantasy. The church however had a wooden predecessor, a st ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Sproge, Sweden

Havdhem Church

While the oldest parts of Havdhem Church have been identified as being from the first half of the 12th century, graves dating from the period of the arrival of Christendom to Gotland (11th century) have been discovered in the cemetery. The choir is the oldest part of the church itself. It shows resemblances with the churches of Garde and Källunge. The choir portal is however later, from the 13th century. The nave dates f ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Havdhem, Sweden

Stenkumla Church

The oldest part of the Stemkumla church is the tower. It was erected at the beginning of the 13th century. Originally it was attached to a Romanesque church dating from the 12th century, but this was replaced with the current church in stages. The choir thus dates from the middle of the 13th century, while the nave of the church was built at the beginning of the 14th century. The church has remained largely unaltered sinc ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Stenkumla, 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.