Medieval churches in Norway

Nes Church

Nes Church was built in c. 1250 in English Gothic style. It has been restored in the 1700s and 1964.
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Nes På Hedmark, 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 sill ...
Founded: 1180-1250 | Location: Borgund, 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

Ramnes Church

Ramnes church dates from the 1100s. The heavy stone walls are original except the northwest corner. The tower was erected in the early 1600s. The font was made in the early 1200s, altarpiece and pulpit with carved panels date from the 1600s.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ramnes, Norway

Rygge Church

Rygge church is a medieval stone church built in the 12th century. The church is one of Østfold's largest, richest adorned and best preserved medieval church in the region.
Founded: c. 1170 | Location: Rygge, Norway

Mo Church Ruins

Mo church ruin probably date back to around 1215, and this may well be Norway`s smallest free-standing stone church from medieval times. It is believed that it was originally a privately owned church. However, Mo parish is mentioned in both 1368 and 1400. The oldest coins found are form King Sverre`s reign 1177-1202, and the most recent ones are from reign of King Hans who died in 1513. These indicate the period during w ...
Founded: 1215 | Location: Slidre, Norway

Fana Church

Fana Church history is long and complicated. Historians assert that the church has been rebuilt and enlarged several times. Fana Church was mentioned in writings for the first time in 1228, when Pope Gregory IX released a conscription to the vicar and brothers at 'the holy cross church and hospital in Fana'. Parts of the existing church building are from the Romanesque age, and the walls show signs of there havi ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Fana, Norway

Hem Church

Hem Church is a Romanesque stone church with a rectangular nave and choir. It was built in 1392.
Founded: 1392 | Location: Svarstad, Norway

Seljord Church

Seljord church was built between 1150-1180 in early Romanesque style. It is dedicated to St. Olav and restored in 1971. The church has fine items, including the oldest altarpiece made after the Reformation. It is probably painted in Germany in 1588. The font is from the 1600s as well as mural paintings.
Founded: 1150-1180 | Location: Seljord, 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 a ...
Founded: c. 1150 | Location: Oslo, Norway

Ænes Church

Ænes stone church was probably built between 1190-1220. The tower was erected in 1869. The pulpit dates from 1630 and altarpiece from 1766.
Founded: 1190-1220 | Location: Ænes, 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

Enebakk Church

Enebakk Church was built in 1104 and the first tower was erected in c. 1200. The current appearance dates mainly from the 1500s and the tower was also re-erected in 1551. It is the oldest wooden tower in a stone church in Norway. The font is made of soapstone in the Middle Ages. The altarpiece dates from 1608 and pulpit from 1667.
Founded: 1104 | Location: Enebakk, Norway

Nykirke

Nykirke ('new church') was built around 1200. It was restored in 1880, 1848 and 1953.
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Nykirke, Norway

Berg Stone Church

Berg old church was built around the year 1100. The church is built Anglo-Saxon style, with an oval nave and a smaller four-sided choir in Romanesque style. The original church was torn down in 1882, and rebuilt in 1970.The oldest object in the church is a runestone from the 12th century laid inside the church walls and a grave stone from the same period with a primitively carved crucifix. The pulpit dates from 1592.
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Larvik, Norway

Hole Church

Hole church dates from the 13th century. The original stone church was largely destroyed by fire in 1736. The church was rebuilt in 1737. Repairs, restorations and remodeling occurred during 1827 and 1909.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hole, Norway

Stange Church

The current Stange Church dates from c. 1250. It was enlarged and the sacristy added in 1703. The interior was renewed mainly in the 1600s after the church was badly damaged by fire in 1620. The pulpit dates from 1630 and beautiful altar from 1652.
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Stange, Norway

Borre Church

It is unkown when the Borre church was built, but it probably dates from the 1100s when Oslo diocese was created. The church is built in Romanesque style. The entrance was built in the 1920s. Inside the church hung previously a three-meter high wooden cross from the 1300s.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Borre, Norway

Dale Church

Dale stone church was built around 1220-1250 and restored in 1600s. The architecture is Gothic and the church contains frescoes dating from the 15th century. The rare pine-made altarpiece dates from the 13th or 14th century. There are also wooden sculptures of St. Olaf from the building time.
Founded: 1220-1250 | Location: Luster, Norway

Siljan Church

Siljan church is a long church built around 1150-1200. Its present form dates from 1838 when the church was extended. The 30 meter high church tower was built in 1903. The church contains a medieval font and crucifix.
Founded: 1150-1200 | Location: Siljan, Norway

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Bergenhus Fortress

Bergenhus fortress is one of the oldest and best preserved castles in Norway. It contains buildings dating as far back as the 1240s, as well as later constructions built as recently as World War II. The extent of the enclosed area of today dates from the early 19th century. In medieval times, the area of the present-day Bergenhus Fortress was known as Holmen (The islet), and contained the royal residence in Bergen, as well as a cathedral and several churches, the bishop's residence, and a Dominican monastery. Excavations have revealed foundations of buildings believed to date back to before 1100, which might have been erected by King Olav Kyrre. In the 13th century, until 1299, Bergen was the capital of Norway and Holmen was thus the main seat of Norway's rulers. It was first enclosed by stone walls in the 1240s.

Of the medieval buildings, a medieval hall and a defensive tower remain. The royal hall, today known as Haakon's Hall, built around 1260, is the largest medieval secular building in Norway. The defensive tower, known in the Middle Ages as the keep by the sea, was built around 1270 by King Magnus VI Lagabøte, and contained a royal apartment on the top floor. In the 1560s it was incorporated by the commander of the castle, Erik Rosenkrantz, into a larger structure, which is today known as the Rosenkrantz Tower.

In the Middle Ages, several churches, including the Christ Church, Bergen's cathedral, were situated on the premises. These however were torn down in the period 1526 to 1531, as the area of Holmen was converted into a purely military fortification under Danish rule. From around this time, the name Bergenhus came into use. Building work on the Christ Church probably started around 1100. It contained the shrine of saint Sunniva, the patron saint of Bergen and western Norway. In the 12th and 13th centuries it was the site of several royal coronations and weddings. It was also the burial site of at least six kings, as well as other members of the royal family. The site of its altar is today marked by a memorial stone.

In the 19th century, the fortress lost its function as a defensive fortification, but it was retained by the military as an administrative base. After restoration in the 1890s, and again after destruction sustained during World War II, Bergenhus is today again used as a feast hall for public events. During World War II, the German navy used several of its buildings for their headquarters, and they also constructed a large concrete bunker within the fortress walls. The buildings, including the Haakon's Hall, were severely damaged when a Dutch ship in the service of the German navy, carrying approximately 120 tons of dynamite, exploded on 20 April 1944 in the harbour just outside the fortress walls, but the buildings were later restored.

Bergenhus is currently under the command of the Royal Norwegian Navy, which has about 150 military personnel stationed there. The fortifications Sverresborg fortress and Fredriksberg fortress also lie in the centre of Bergen. Haakon's Hall and the Rosenkrantz Tower are open for visits by the public. Koengen, the central part of Bergenhus Fortress is also known as a concert venue.