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

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora (Monastery of St. Vincent Outside the Walls) is a 17th-century church and monastery in the city of Lisbon. It is one of the most important monasteries and mannerist buildings in the country. The monastery also contains the royal pantheon of the Braganza monarchs of Portugal.

The original Monastery of São Vicente de Fora was founded around 1147 by the first Portuguese King, Afonso Henriques, for the Augustinian Order. The Monastery, built in Romanesque style outside the city walls, was one of the most important monastic foundations in mediaeval Portugal. It is dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa, patron saint of Lisbon, whose relics were brought from the Algarve to Lisbon in the 12th century.

The present buildings are the result of a reconstruction ordered by King Philip II of Spain, who had become King of Portugal (as Philip I) after a succession crisis in 1580. The church of the monastery was built between 1582 and 1629, while other monastery buildings were finished only in the 18th century. The author of the design of the church is thought to be the Italian Jesuit Filippo Terzi and/or the Spaniard Juan de Herrera. The plans were followed and modified by Leonardo Turriano, Baltazar Álvares, Pedro Nunes Tinoco and João Nunes Tinoco.

The church of the Monastery has a majestic, austere façade that follows the later Renaissance style known as Mannerism. The façade, attributed to Baltazar Álvares, has several niches with statues of saints and is flanked by two towers (a model that would become widespread in Portugal). The lower part of the façade has three arches that lead to the galilee (entrance hall). The floorplan of the church reveals a Latin cross building with a one-aisled nave with lateral chapels. The church is covered by barrel vaulting and has a huge dome over the crossing. The general design of the church interior follows that of the prototypic church of Il Gesù, in Rome.

The beautiful main altarpiece is a Baroque work of the 18th century by one of the best Portuguese sculptors, Joaquim Machado de Castro. The altarpiece has the shape of a baldachin and is decorated with a large number of statues. The church also boasts several fine altarpieces in the lateral chapels.

The Monastery buildings are reached through a magnificent baroque portal, located beside the church façade. Inside, the entrance is decorated with blue-white 18th century tiles that tell the history of the Monastery, including scenes of the Siege of Lisbon in 1147. The ceiling of the room has an illusionistic painting executed in 1710 by the Italian Vincenzo Baccarelli. The sacristy of the Monastery is exuberantly decorated with polychromed marble and painting. The cloisters are also notable for the 18th century tiles that recount fables of La Fontaine, among other themes.

In 1834, after the religious orders were dissolved in Portugal, the monastery was transformed into a palace for the archbishops of Lisbon. Some decades later, King Ferdinand II transformed the monks' old refectory into a pantheon for the kings of the House of Braganza. Their tombs were transferred from the main chapel to this room.