Medieval churches in Norway

Korskirken

Korskirken is located at the intersection of the streets Kong Oscars gate and Nedre Korskirkeallmenning and dates back to the latter half of the 12th century. The name of the church refers to the True Cross (and not to its cruciform plan), and is usually rendered in English as 'Holy Cross Church'. This is because it was, as one of only a Norwegian churches, in possession of a relic from the True Cross. This relic was late ...
Founded: c. 1181 | Location: Bergen, 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 Cathedral ...
Founded: c. 1100-1150 | Location: Stavanger, 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

Our Lady's Church

Our Lady"s Church (Vår Frue kirke) was erected around the year 1200. The victim of many fires, it was restored in 1739, but parts of the thick, solid walls of the Church are obviously much older. The first tower of the church was built around 1640, but the current tower was built in 1742 and the spire was erected in 1779. However, the eastern part of church (to the right in the picture) is identical to the &apo ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Trondheim, 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

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

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 Swedi ...
Founded: 1050 | Location: Oslo, Norway

Lom Stave Church

Lom Stave Church is a triple nave stave church that uses free standing inner columns to support a raised section in the ceiling of the main nave. This type of church is amongst the oldest stave churches. The church was first situated in a sub valley to the valley Gudbrandsdal in Oppland County, some 60 kilometers west of Otta. The church dates to approximately second part of 12th century, but was rebuilt into a cruciform ...
Founded: 1158 | Location: Lom, Norway

Heddal Stave Church

Heddal stave church is a triple nave stave church and is Norway"s largest stave church. It was constructed at the beginning of the 13th century. After the reformation, the church was in a very poor condition, and a restoration took place during 1849 - 1851. However, because the restorers lacked the necessary knowledge and skills, yet another restoration was necessary in the 1950s. The interior is marked by the period ...
Founded: c. 1210 | Location: Notodden, Norway

St. Hallvard's Cathedral

St. Hallvard"s Cathedral (Hallvardskatedralen), the former Oslo Cathedral, was the earliest cathedral in Oslo. The cathedral was built at the height of the Old Town market square Oslo during the early 12th century, and was used as a church until about 1655. Besides being the bishop"s seat and religious center of eastern Norway for about 500 years, the cathedral was the coronation church, royal wedding church, ch ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Oslo, Norway

Borgund Stave Church

Borgund Stave Church is the best preserved of Norway's 28 extant stave churches. It was built sometime between 1180 and 1250 AD with later additions and restorations. Its walls are formed by vertical wooden boards, or staves, hence the name 'stave church'. The four corner posts were connected to one another by ground sills, resting on a stone foundation. The rest of the staves then rise from the ground sills, each stave n ...
Founded: 1180-1250 | Location: Borgund, Norway

Hopperstad Stave Church

Hopperstad Stave Church is assumed to have been built around 1130 and still stands at its original location. The church is owned by the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Norwegian Monuments. In 1997, a series of samples from the logs were collected for dendrochronological dating of the church. A total of seven samples produced an estimate for the construction ranging from 1034 to 1116 and resulted in no definite co ...
Founded: c. 1130 | Location: Vik, 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

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

Vangen Church

Vangen Church was built in 1202 or 1280 depending the reference. It was built by an ancient family who lived in Aurland in the Viking Age and Middle Ages. The church is built in the early Gothic style influenced by English architecture. A document written in 1714 tells us that the English merchants used to stay in Aurland during long periods to buy different articles and they are supposed to have taken part in the buildin ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Aurland, Norway

Urnes Stave Church

The stave churches constitute one of the most elaborate types of wood construction which are typical of northern Europe from the Neolithic period to the Middle Ages. Christianity was introduced into Norway during the reign of St Olav (1016-30). The churches were built on the classic basilical plan, but entirely of wood. The roof frames were lined with boards and the roof itself covered with shingles in accordance with con ...
Founded: c. 1130 | Location: Ornes, Norway

Old Aker Church

Old Aker Church (Gamle Aker kirke) is Oslo's oldest remaining building and the only remaining church from the Middle Ages. It is assumed that it was built around the year 1150. It is a stone church, built as a three-naved Roman-style basilica. The church has been pillaged and ravaged by fire several times. The oldest part of the surrounding churchyard dates back to the 12th century. The church has a baroque pulpit and ba ...
Founded: c. 1150 | Location: Oslo, Norway

Hamar Cathedral Ruins

Bishop Arnaldur (1124-52) returned to Norway in 1150 from Gardar, Greenland and was appointed first Bishop of Hamar. He began to build the cathedral, which was completed about the time of Bishop Paul (1232-52). Bishop Thorfinn of Hamar (1278-82) was exiled and died at Ter Doest in Flanders. Thorfinn and many other bishops of the area disagreed with the sitting King Eric II of Norway regarding a number of issues, including ...
Founded: 1150 | Location: Hamar, Norway

Garmo Stave Church

Garmo stave church originally came from Garmo in Lom in Oppland county. The church is mentioned for the first time in 1363 AD, but is for sure much older, probably built in approximately 1190-1225 AD or even some earlier. It was built on the site of a previous church believed to have been built in 1021 by a Viking chieftain. The church consists of 17th and 18th century inventory with a pulpit from Romsdalen. In 1730, it w ...
Founded: 1190-1225 | Location: Lillehammer, Norway

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Cochem Castle

The original Cochem Castle, perched prominently on a hill above the Moselle River, served to collect tolls from passing ships. Modern research dates its origins to around 1100. Before its destruction by the French in 1689, the castle had a long and fascinating history. It changed hands numerous times and, like most castles, also changed its form over the centuries.

In 1151 King Konrad III ended a dispute over who should inherit Cochem Castle by laying siege to it and taking possession of it himself. That same year it became an official Imperial Castle (Reichsburg) subject to imperial authority. In 1282 it was Habsburg King Rudolf’s turn, when he conquered the Reichsburg Cochem and took it over. But just 12 years later, in 1294, the newest owner, King Adolf of Nassau pawned the castle, the town of Cochem and the surrounding region in order to finance his coronation. Adolf’s successor, Albrecht I, was unable to redeem the pledge and was forced to grant the castle to the archbishop in nearby Trier and the Electorate of Trier, which then administered the Reichsburg continuously, except for a brief interruption when Trier’s Archbishop Balduin of Luxembourg had to pawn the castle to a countess. But he got it back a year later.

The Electorate of Trier and its nobility became wealthy and powerful in large part due to the income from Cochem Castle and the rights to shipping tolls on the Moselle. Not until 1419 did the castle and its tolls come under the administration of civil bailiffs (Amtsmänner). While under the control of the bishops and electors in Trier from the 14th to the 16th century, the castle was expanded several times.

In 1688 the French invaded the Rhine and Moselle regions of the Palatinate, which included Cochem and its castle. French troops conquered the Reichsburg and then laid waste not only to the castle but also to Cochem and most of the other surrounding towns in a scorched-earth campaign. Between that time and the Congress of Vienna, the Palatinate and Cochem went back and forth between France and Prussia. In 1815 the western Palatinate and Cochem finally became part of Prussia once and for all.

Louis Jacques Ravené (1823-1879) did not live to see the completion of his renovated castle, but it was completed by his son Louis Auguste Ravené (1866-1944). Louis Auguste was only two years old when construction work at the old ruins above Cochem began in 1868, but most of the new castle took shape from 1874 to 1877, based on designs by Berlin architects. After the death of his father in 1879, Louis Auguste supervised the final stages of construction, mostly involving work on the castle’s interior. The castle was finally completed in 1890. Louis Auguste, like his father, a lover of art, filled the castle with an extensive art collection, most of which was lost during the Second World War.

In 1942, during the Nazi years, Ravené was forced to sell the family castle to the Prussian Ministry of Justice, which turned it into a law school run by the Nazi government. Following the end of the war, the castle became the property of the new state of Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate). In 1978 the city of Cochem bought the castle for 664,000 marks.