Medieval churches in Gotland

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

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

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

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

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

Hablingbo Church

Hablingbo Church was made of sandstone. The tower was erected around the year 1200 and the Gothic-style main nave and choir were built in the 14th century. The sacristy was added in the 1730s. The most interesting detail is a Lion Portal, originally the main entrance to the former 12th century Romanesque church. When the church was rebuilt in the 14th century, it was re-used in the north face of the nave. The story of Ca ...
Founded: ca. 1200 | Location: Havdhem, Sweden

Eksta Church

The oldest part of Eksta Church is the tower, dating from the 13th century and still unchanged. The rest of the church is also from the Middle Ages, but was heavily rebuilt in 1838. The church still has four medieval portals, in both Romanesque and Gothic style. The interior of the church is largely Neoclassical, dating from the 1838 renovation. A few traces of medieval frescos have survived on the walls, as have a single ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Eksta, Sweden

Bunge Church

The tower of Bunge Church was originally built for defensive purposes as part of the older church. The present nave and choir were built around 1300. The interior is richly decorated with murals, dating from from the end of 14th century. These magnificent paintings were made probably by Baltic master, who arrived to Gotland with Teutonic Order. The baptismal font and limestone almsbox (with rune inscription: ”Lafra ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Fårösund, Sweden

Akebäck Church

Akebäck Church was inaugurated in 1149, but the current nave, choir and apse were built in the late 1100s. The strong tower was built in the 1200s. The font originates from the 1200s, wooden crucifix from 1400s, altar and pulpit from 1600s. The big chandelier was donated to the church in 1850.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Visby, 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

Buttle Church

Buttle Church nave and western chancel were built in the late 1100s. It was rebuilt in the early 1200s and again in 1300s. There are frescoes mainly from the 1400s in vaults. The altarpiace dates also from 1400s and triumph cruficix from the 1100s (it is one of the oldest in Gotland). The font was made in mid-1200s and pulpit in early 1700s.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Romakloster, 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

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

Etelhem Church

The oldest part of the Etelhem Church is a tower, built in the beginning of 1200s. The nave and choir were built around 1300 and sacristy added in 1600s. The interior is decorated with mural paintings made in the 1400s. The well-preserved stained glass in choir window dates from the 1300s. The font was made of sandstone in the late 1100s and wooden crucifix was carved in 1300s. The pulpit dates from 1648 and altar from 16 ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Stånga, Sweden

Björke Church

The western part of the Björke Church chancel and nave were built in the 13th century. The chancel was extended to the east during next century and sacristy was added in 1860. The font and cruficix date from the 13th century. The pulpit (1594) is one of the oldest in Gotland.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Romakloster, Sweden

Hangvar Church

Hangvar church dates from the 13th century. The oldest parts are the choir and nave; the tower was built slightly later. The church has a decorated entrance portal, with sculpted capitals and a sculpture of a man"s head above the portal. Internally, the church ceiling is supported by four vaults which rest on a central column. The base of the column is decorated with carved figures. Among the furnishings, the baptism ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hangvar, 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

Eskelhem Church

Eskelhem Church was preceded by a wooden church, of which nothing remains. Circa 1200 it was replaced by a stone church. The walls of the nave of the present church are all that remains of this edifice. The church was successively enlarged and rebuilt until it received its present form in the middle of the 14th century. Internally, the church is decorated with different sets of frescos, dating from the end of the 13th ce ...
Founded: 1200 | Location: Eskelhem, 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

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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.