Medieval churches in Gotland

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

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

Halla Church

The oldest part of Halla Church is the Romanesque nave, dating from circa 1200. The tower is slightly later, while the disproportionally large choir is from the middle of the 14th century, in Gothic style and replacing an older on the same spot. Scholars have concluded that there were plans to replace the whole church with a Gothic edifice, but the builders probably ran out of funds after constructing the choir. The exte ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Halla, Sweden

Ganthem Church

Ganthem church is a well-preserved Romanesque church, finished in the middle of the 13th century. The choir with its apse is the oldest part, dating from the late 12th century. The nave is slightly later, from the beginning of the 13th century while the tower is the most recent addition. Apart from an enlargement of the windows made in the 19th century, and the addition of a sacristy in the 1930s, the church has remained ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ganthem, Sweden

Fide Church

Fide Church dates from the 13th century. Oldest are the nave and choir, while the tower was added slightly later. The roof lantern which gives the top of the tower its distinctive shape is however considerably later, from 1826. The church lies in an unusually well-preserved medieval cemetery which is surrounded by a low wall in which three medieval gates still sits. The building material of the church is sandstone. The e ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Fide, Sweden

Alskog Church

The oldest part of the Alskog church is the nave, dating from the first quarter of the 13th century. It displays an unusual southern portal, decorated with sculptures. Inside, the nave is divided in two parts by two central columns and has a vaulted ceiling. The tower is somewhat later but also from the early 13th century. Its portal show similarities with the tower portal of Visby Cathedral. The much larger choir and ves ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Ljugarn, Sweden

Hejdeby Church

Hejdeby Church was built in the 13th century, the choir and nave first (in late Romanesque style) and the tower later (showing early Gothic influences). The interior of the church is richly decorated with medieval frescos. These date from two periods: the oldest are from the 13th century and depict apostles, the crowning of Mary, and various saints. The other set of frescos date from the 15th century and depict scenes fro ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Visby, Sweden

Väte Church

Väte Church was built of stone during the 1300s and is one of the largest in Gotland. It consists of thee naves with arches, sacristy and chancel the north side. The chancel with vestry was built around 1300. The nave is considered to originate from the master Egypticus or his workshop. The triumph crucifix originate from the earlier church (made around 1200) and the baptismal font was carved by master Byzantios in ...
Founded: ca. 1300 | Location: Gotland, 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

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

Atlingbo Church

The foundations of Atlingbo church originate from the 12th century and it is one of the oldest in Gotland. The present church building was erected during the 13th century. Its chancel has Gothic style apsidal plan. The altar dates from the 17th century and benches from the 18th century. The pulpit was made by Rasmus Felderman in 1693. The octagonal sandstone font dates from the 12th century and it is made by master ' ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Romakloster, Sweden

Stenkyrka Church

According the Gutasaga, a man called Lickajr the Wise built one of the first churches on Gotland in Stenkyrka. If true, this first church was almost certainly wooden. The name Stenkyrka (literally in Swedish stone church) implies that also the stone church is very early, from a time when buildings made of stone (rather than wood) was still a phenomenon unusual enough to give name to a place. This first, Romanesque church ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Stenkyrka, Sweden

Gann Church Ruins

Gann Church was built in the middle of the 13th century in the locality of Lärbro. The church consists of a chancel, nave and tower. The tower rests on the west wall of the nave. The tower was presumably built in the late 13th century. The church was presumably abandoned as early as in the 16th century. The chancel and arch contain mural paintings.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Lärbro, Sweden

Elinghem Church Ruins

Elinghem church was built in the 13th century and probably abandoned in the early 17th century. The altar with piscina and baptismal font still remain.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hangvar, Sweden

Gunnfjauns Chapel Ruins

Gunnfjauns Chapel in Ardre parish was probably built as a  chapel for the medieval marketplace of Kaupungsklint in the 1300s. Today it lies in ruins.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Ljugarn, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Königstein Fortress

Königstein Fortress is located on the left bank of the River Elbe. It is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe. The 9.5 hectare rock plateau rises 240 metres above the Elbe and has over 50 buildings, some over 400 years old, that bear witness to the military and civilian life in the fortress. The rampart run of the fortress is 1,800 metres long with walls up to 42 metres high and steep sandstone faces. In the centre of the site is a 152.5 metre deep well, which is the deepest in Saxony and second deepest well in Europe.

The fortress, which for centuries was used as a state prison, is still intact and is now one of Saxony's foremost tourist attractions, with 700,000 visitors per year.

By far the oldest written record of a castle on the Königstein is found in a deed by King Wenceslas I of Bohemia dating to the year 1233. It is probable that there had been a stone castle on the Königstein as early as the 12th century. The oldest surviving structure today is the castle chapel built at the turn of the 13th century. In the years 1563 to 1569 the 152.5 metre deep well was bored into the rock within the castle - until that point the garrison of the Königstein had to obtain water from cisterns and by collecting rainwater.

Between 1589 and 1591/97 Prince-Elector Christian I of Saxony and his successor had the castle developed into the strongest fortification in Saxony. The hill was now surrounded with high walls. Buildings were erected, including the Gatehouse (Torhaus), the Streichwehr, the Old Barracks (Alte Kaserne), the Christiansburg (Friedrichsburg) and the Old Armoury (Altes Zeughaus). The second construction period followed from 1619 to 1681, during which the John George Bastion was built. The third construction period is seen as the time from 1694 to 1756, which included the expansion of the Old Barracks. From 1722 to 1725, at the behest of August the Strong, coopers under Böttger built the enormous Königstein Wine Barrel, the greatest wine barrel in the world, in the cellar of the Magdalenenburg which had a capacity of 249,838 litres. It cost 8,230 thalers, 18 groschen and 9 pfennigs. The butt, which was once completely filled with country wine from the Meißen vineyards, had to be removed again in 1818 due to its poor condition. Because of Böttger, Königstein Fortress is also the site where European porcelain started.

Even after the expansion during those periods of time there continued to be modifications and additions on the extensive plateau. The Treasury (Schatzhaus) was built from 1854 to 1855. After the fortress had been incorporated in 1871 into the fortification system of the new German Empire, battery ramparts were constructed from 1870 to 1895 with eight firing points, that were to have provided all-round defence for the fortress in case of an attack that, in the event, never came. This was at this time that the last major building work was done on the fortress.

Because Königstein Fortress was regarded as unconquerable, the Saxon monarchs retreated to it from Wittenberg and later Dresden during times of crisis and also deposited the state treasure and many works of art from the famous Zwinger here; it was also used as a country retreat due to its lovely surroundings.

The fortress played an important role in the History of Saxony, albeit less as a result of military action. The Saxon Dukes and Prince-Electors used the fortress primarily as a secure refuge during times of war, as a hunting lodge and maison de plaisance, but also as a dreaded state prison. Its actual military significance was rather marginal.

Since 1955 the fortress has been an open-air, military history museum of high touristic value.