Medieval churches in Norway

Undredal Stave Church

Undredal Stave Church was built in the middle of the 12th century. The church has been moved from different locations and reconstructed a few times. Around 1850 the building was extended to the west with the addition of a clock tower and porch. In 1913 there were plans to dismantle the church and move it to a museum in Kaupanger, but this never happened. Instead it was reconstructed in 1984 and under extensive maintenance ...
Founded: c. 1147 | Location: Undredal, Norway

Kvernes Stave Church

From ancient times Kvernes has been of great religious and cultural importance at Nordmøre. The excavation of a white phallus stone, a sacred symbol of fertility, supports this fact. The stave church was built around year 1300 and has a rather large main nave (16×7,5 m) with external diagonal props supporting the walls. Several repairs/reconstructions have been carried out. In 1633 the stave-built chancelwas ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Averøy, Norway

Trondenes Church

Trondenes Church is the northernmost medieval stone church of Norway. Though frequently mentioned as a 13th-century church, dating based on dendrochronology places its completion shortly after 1434. Compared to the other ten north Norwegian medieval stone churches, Trondenes church is well preserved and the exterior is close to the original state. The nave is 22.6 metres long and the chancel is 13.5 metres, making it one ...
Founded: c. 1434 | Location: Harstad, Norway

Eidsborg Stave Church

Eidsborg Stave Church is one of the best preserved Norwegian stave churches. The church was probably built between 1250-1300. The church is dedicated to the traveller"s patron, St. Nicholas of Bari. It was partly reconstructed in the 19th century. The chorus was demolished in 1826. The new choir dates to the period 1845-50. The reconstruction work did not affect the structure or the shape of the church. It was restor ...
Founded: 1250-1300 | Location: Eidsborg, Norway

Utstein Abbey

Utstein Abbey is Norway's best-preserved medieval monastery. The abbey, dedicated to Saint Laurence, was founded in its present location during the reign of King Magnus VI of Norway (1263–1280). It was a house of Augustinian Canons. It appears however that this community was the one previously established as St. Olav's Abbey, Stavanger, one of the earliest Augustinian monasteries in Norway if not the very earliest: the ...
Founded: 1263-1280 | Location: Mosterøy, 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

Ringebu Stave Church

Ringebu Stave Church was built in the first half of the 13th century. The church is first mentioned in 1270, although it can be older. It was rebuilt into a cruciform church around 1630 by master-builder Werner Olsen and in 1631 received its characteristic red tower. Of the original church only the nave remains, with free-standing posts in the inner area.Later restoration brought it back a bit closer to its original shape ...
Founded: c. 1220 | Location: Ringebu, Norway

St. Clement's Church Ruins

St. Clement"s Church or Klemet"s Church was one of the Roman Catholic parish churches of the old Oslo. It was a stone church with a tower, and it was one of the very few churches we know with the double-nave floor plan. Along the middle axis of the choir there were three powerful pillars that held the roof. The church went out of use after the Protestant Reformation, and expect it rather quickly was in ruins. T ...
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Oslo, Norway

Kinsarvik Church

Kinsarvik Church is the oldest stone church in the whole Hardanger region, and at one time, it was one of the four main churches for all of Hordaland county. The present church seats about 240 people. The first wooden church in all of Hardanger was built on this site around the year 1050. It was most likely a wooden church which was replaced by the present stone church around the year 1160. Remains of the previous church ...
Founded: 1160 | Location: Kinsarvik, Norway

Alstahaug Church

Alstahaug Church built in the 1100s and it seats about 270 people. It was enlarged in 1865 and restored in 1960. The altarpiece dates from 17th century.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Alstahaug, Norway

Avaldsnes Church

Before the current Avaldsnes church was constructed, there was a wooden church on the same site. That church is assumed to have been built by Olav Trygvason, and it is possible that the present stone church is built around this church originally. The current church has been a landmark for seafarers passing through the strait of Karmsund for 750 years. King Håkon IV Håkonsson gave permission to build a church around the ...
Founded: 1320 | Location: Avaldsnes, Norway

Rødven Stave Church

According to a notice board outside the church, the nave and south porch of the Rødven Stave Church date from the 14th century, the crucifix dates from the 13th century and the pulpit from 1712. Inside are an ornately carved crucifix and pulpit. The church is a Møre-type stave church due to its structure and the exterior support posts that brace the walls. During an archeological survey in 1962-1963, marks were found fr ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Eidsbygda, Norway

St. Margaret's Church

St. Margaret"s Church was a stone church built in the 13th century. It is now a ruin, but the ruin underwent a restoration in 1934, and is today the best preserved medieval buildings next to the Old Aker Church. The church is named after Margaret of Antioch.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Oslo, Norway

Uvdal Stave Church

Uvdal Stave Church was originally constructed just after the year 1168, which we know through dendrochronological dating of the pine tree used during the construction. The logs were not completely dry when the construction took place. The church was made on top of the remains of previous church on the site, thought to have been made with the use of imbedded corner column technology at the beginning of the 11th century. Th ...
Founded: 1168 | Location: Nore og Uvdal, Norway

Torpo Stave Church

Built in 1192, the Torpo stave church is the oldest building within the valley and traditional district of Hallingdal. The church was dedicated to Saint Margareta. The stave church was purchased by the municipality in 1875. It was initially planned to expand it with an annex to the east, but in 1879 it was decided instead to modernize the interior with new ceiling and gallery. Following protest from the Ancient Monuments ...
Founded: 1192 | Location: Ål, Norway

Bø Old Church

Bø old church was built between 1150 and 1180 in Romanesque style. The porch was added in the 1600s. There is a triumph crucifix from the 13th century, but the other interior dates mainly from the Renaissance age after Reformation.
Founded: 1150-1180 | Location: Bø i Telemark, Norway

Kaupanger Stave Church

Kaupanger Stave Church is the largest stave church in Sogn og Fjordane. The nave is supported by 22 staves, 8 on each of the longer sides and 3 on each of the shorter. The elevated chancel is carried by 4 free standing staves. The church has the largest number of staves to be found in any one stave church. It is still in use as a parish church, having been in use continuously since its erection. Kaupanger Stave Church wa ...
Founded: 1150 | Location: Kaupanger, Norway

Haltdalen Stave Church

Haltdalen Stave Church was originally located in Haltdalen, but today it is on display at the Sverresborg museum in Trondheim. The church was probably built in the 1170s. The church on display is a rebuilt version of two churches from Ålen and Haltdalen. The western wall and the portal is from the old Ålen church. This is a single-nave stave church of the east Scandinavian-style, and it is the only one that is ...
Founded: 1170s | Location: Trondheim, Norway

Vågå Stave Church

Vågå Stave Church, which was constructed around 1150, is one of the older stave churches in Norway. It was originally dedicated to St. Peter. The prior rectory was formerly called Ullinsyn. The older name of the site may show that even in pagan times, the location had been in use for worship. The church was converted to a cruciform church in 1626–28. Only the carved portals and decorative wall planks su ...
Founded: c. 1150 | Location: Vågå, Norway

Røldal Stave Church

Røldal Stave Church was probably built between 1200-1250. The church has a rectangular-shaped nave and chancel. The crucifix dates from about 1250. The altarpiece by German painter Gottfried Hendtzchell from Wroclaw in Silesia dates from 1629. The baptismal font is made of soapstone between 1200-1250. Bergen Museum holds a variety of building components and other artifacts from the medieval church. These include alter fr ...
Founded: 1200-1250 | Location: Odda, Norway

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.