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

Derbent Fortress

Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.

Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.

A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.

The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.

The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.

In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.

In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.