Medieval churches in Norway

Nidaros Cathedral

Nidaros Cathedral is the most important Christian cathedral in Norway. It was built over the burial site of Saint Olaf, the king of Norway in the 11th century, who became the patron saint of the nation. It is the traditional location for the consecration of the King of Norway and the northernmost medieval cathedral in the world. Nidaros Cathedral was built beginning in 1070 to memorialize the burial place of Olaf II of N ...
Founded: 1070-1300 | Location: Trondheim, Norway

Stavanger Cathedral

Stavanger Cathedral is Norway"s oldest cathedral. Bishop Reinald, who may have come from Winchester, is said to have started construction of the Cathedral around 1100. It was finished around 1150, and the city of Stavanger counts 1125 as its year of foundation. The Cathedral was consecrated to Swithin as its patron saint. Saint Swithun was an early Bishop of Winchester and subsequently patron saint of Winchester Cath ...
Founded: c. 1100-1150 | Location: Stavanger, Norway

Bergen Cathedral

Bergen Cathedral was first time mentioned in 1181. It retains its ancient dedication to St. Olaf. During the reign of king Haakon IV of Norway, a Franciscan friary was established near the church, then known as Olavskirken, or the church of Saint Olaf, which was incorporated in it. The church burned down in 1248 and again in 1270, but was reconstructed after both fires. In 1463, it burned down again, but this time it was ...
Founded: 1181 | Location: Bergen, Norway

Lunner Church

Lunner church dates from the 12th century. It was originally only a stone church with a circular stone tower at the west side. On the image the original stone church can be seen on the right hand side. Sometime between 1780 – 1790, the tower was dismantled and the church rebuilt into a cruciform church. This can be observed to the left in the picture. The newer parts in wood underwent restoration work in 1987 &nda ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Lunner, Norway

Sister Churches

There are two adjacent medieval churches in Gran called as Søsterkirkene, the sister churches. According to local folklore, the two churches were commissioned by two sisters who had fallen out and therefore would not be seen in the same church. It is, however, not uncommon for medieval churches with different functions to be built close to one another. The smaller one, dedicated to St. Mary, was built probably before 11 ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Gran, Norway

Voss Church

Voss stone church was built in 1277 and it seats about 500 people. The site of the present church may once have been occupied by a heathen temple. In 1023, King Olaf Haraldsen visited Vossevangen to convert the people to Christianity. Tradition says that he built a large stone cross at the site, which was probably the first Christian place of worship at Voss and it became the main church for Hordafylket during the middle ...
Founded: 1271-1277 | Location: Voss, Norway

Vanse Church

Vanse Church is probably one of the oldest churches in Norway; it originates most likely from 1037. In 1848 it was extended to become a cross church, and visiting church musicians often refer to it as a cathedral. The church was struck by fire in 1872, but was completely restored in 1875. The altarpiece was painted in 1866 by G. H. Lammers. The church is built of stone with chalk plaster, and with its 1100 seats, it is th ...
Founded: 1037 | Location: Vanse, Norway

Kodal Church

Kodal Church chancel dates from the 12th century. The nave from 1691 is made of round timbers. The altarpiece dates from 1781 and the painting 'Jesus and the disciples on the walk to Emmaus' by Otto Valstad in the style of Dorph from 1899.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Kodal, Norway

Orre Old Church

Orre Old Church was built in c. 1250. It was a parish church until 1950, when the new church was completed.
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Orre, Norway

St. Mary's Church

St Mary"s Church (Mariakirken) construction is believed to have started in the 1130s or 40s and completed around 1180, making the church the oldest remaining building in Bergen. St Mary"s Church is the only remaining of twelve churches and three monasteries built in Bergen between its foundation during the reign of Olav Kyrre (1066–93, traditionally 1070) and the end of the twelfth century. Excavations have revealed ...
Founded: 1130s | Location: Bergen, Norway

Sola Church Ruins

The current Sola church is built on the ruins of an early 12th century Romanesque stone church. The old church was in use until 1842 , when it began to decay. Painter Johan Bennetter bought the church ruins in 1871 and converted it into a private residence with studio. In 1907 the family moved into a new house that was built in the garden. The basement of this house is preserved southwest of the church ruins. Large sectio ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Sola, Norway

Hobøl Church

Hobøl Church is considered to be one of Norway"s best preserved medieval churches. The church was built in granite in Romanesque style at the end of the 12th century (around 1175). The baptismal font with granite basin and steatite base dates from medieval times and is probably as old as the church itself. The altarpiece dates from c. 1600 and pulpit was a gift from Adrian Busch in 1602 and is made ​R ...
Founded: c. 1175 | Location: Hobøl, Norway

Romnes Church

Romnes church was probably built at the end of the 12th century or the beginning of the 13th century, and was dedicated to St. Lawrence. The interior of the church is from the period after the reformation (1735). Altarpiece, pulpit, font, candlesticks etc. were given to the church by private families in the period 1700-1760. he wooden fence that earlier surrounded the church and cemetery, was in 1931-32 replaced by the s ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Nome, Norway

Berg Church

Berg Church was built in the 12th century. The pulpit from 1592 is today in the Norsk Folkemuseum in Oslo. The church has a baptismal font made of Gotland soapstone aound 1150.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Halden, Norway

Church of the Cross Ruins

Church of the Cross was a small medieval parish church for the northern part of the Old Town of Oslo. The ruin was rediscovered in 1922 and is now a part of the Ruin Park containing the ruins of the church and the greater St. Hallvard's Cathedral. There is no definite information about when the church was built. The church is not mentioned in the sources of the fighting in Oslo in 1240 between King Haakon IV and Duke Sku ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Oslo, Norway

Christ Church Ruins

Christ Church was the main church and cathedral of Bergen in the Middle Ages. The church was built by King Olav Kyrre during the period 1066-1093. The church was situated north of Haakon"s hall, the King"s hall. It was dedicated to the Holy Trinity but was always known as Christ Church. In 1170 the relics of Saint Sunniva were moved here from Selja and placed on the main altar. During Bergen"s period as th ...
Founded: 1066-1093 | Location: Bergen, Norway

Lade Church

Lade Church is believed to be one of Norway"s oldest stone churches. It is unknown when when it was exactly built, but people started using it around 1190. The current church is assumed to be the successor of two other churches, which are believed to have been one stone church and one stave church. During the wars with Sweden and later during World War II, the church was used as a food stock. There is actually a swas ...
Founded: c. 1190 | Location: Trondheim, Norway

St. Mary's Church Ruins

St Mary"s Church (Mariakirken) was the royal chapel and had an important political role, as its provost from 1314 also was Chancellor of Norway. It was built originally in 1050 AD, but rebuilt and expanded several times. Final additions made in the 1300s. In the beginning of the 14th century, it was the third largest church in the country, and in the Middle Ages it was the royal chapel. The church was set on fire by ...
Founded: 1050 | Location: Oslo, Norway

Lørenskog Church

Lørenskog Church was probably built in 1150-1250. There is a sculpture of St. Lawrence from the 1100s. The altarpiece dates from 1647 and pulpit from 1658.
Founded: 1150-1250 | Location: Lørenskog, Norway

Hol Old Church

Hol Old Church (Hol gamle kirke) is presumed to date from the 13th century, but the exact dating is unknown. The church is the oldest parish in Hol and is first mentioned in a letter from 1328 as a small stave church with covered side porches. The church has been expanded several times, in the 16th century, in 1697 and in 1798-99. It was rebuilt in 1888 and 1938. It is believed that the floor of the church was made using ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hol, Norway

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.