Medieval churches in Norway

Giske Church

Giske Church was built of white marble in the 12th century. The origin of the marble is unclear, but it was brought to the island by boat. Where it came from before that is unknown. Today the walls are covered by chalk on the outside and plaster on the inside, so that the marble is only visible in a few places, all on the outside. The architectural style is Norman. The church was originally a family chapel consisting of ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Giske, Norway

Reinli Stave Church

The Reinli Stave Church was built some time during the 14th century. It is the third church at the same location in Reinli. The first references made to a church at this location comes from Olaf Haraldsson who travelled through Valdres in 1023, and also visited Reinli. It is believed that there was a pagan temple at the same location before the first church, some time before 1000. Through radiocarbon dating, logs in the ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Reinli, 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

Ullensvang Church

Ullensvang Church was built in the 13th century and has been remodeled and expanded several times over the centuries. The present church seats about 430 people. Colloquially, the church is known as the Hardanger Cathedral due to its size, history, and central location in the Hardanger region of the county. The area of Ullensvang is named after the old pagan god Ullin. Ullensvang is thus an old name. It is reasonable that ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Ullensvang, Norway

Rollag Stave Church

Rollag Stave Church was probably originally built in second half of the 12th century, though not much is left of the original church. Originally, the church has been a simple church with a rectangular nave. It was first mentioned in written sources in 1425. It was rebuilt around 1660 into a cruciform church. Around 1760, an additional lining wall was placed on top of the structure and the church was extended to the west.
Founded: c. 1150 | Location: Rollag, Norway

Leikanger Church

Leikanger Church was originally built of stone in ca. 1250. Two towers and the porch were added in the 1600s. In 1872 the interior was replaced almost completely, the porch was demolished and tower replaced with a new one. The pulpit and altar date from the early 1600s.
Founded: 1250 | Location: Leikanger, Norway

St. Olav's Church Ruins

St. Olav"s Church stone church was built before 1150 and probably Telemark"s largest stone church in former times. It had a number of unusual building features, including lektorium and a separate room for earthly values, which today is called 'Mary"s Chapel'. Probably the church was the main church in Grenland, a kind of 'county church' and therefore had the highest status of all churche ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Bamble, Norway

Stiklestad Church

Stiklestad Church was built at the site of the Battle of Stiklestad and completed in 1180. During the battle in 1030, St. Olaf received three severe wounds—in the knee, in the neck, and the final mortal blow through the heart—and died leaning against a large stone. The church building is assumed to have been erected on the exact spot where St. Olaf was killed during that battle and that stone is supposedly still insid ...
Founded: 1180 | Location: Verdal, Norway

Lomen Stave Church

Lomen stave church was built in the second half of the 12th century. Through dendrochronological dating the church has been dated to 1179, but the first reference in written sources is not until 1325 and 1334, at that time as 'Hvams kirke'. The church was rebuilt and enlarged in 1779. The church is supported by 4 columns, and has three lavishly carved portals, chancel-arches and column capitals. During the last ...
Founded: c. 1179 | Location: Lomen, Norway

Spangereid Church

Spangereid church is a beautiful medieval church from c. 1100. The church was originally a Romanesque long church, and the oldest part is made of stone. In the 1830s the church was modified and extended, which means that the current structure is a cruciform church.
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Lindesnes, Norway

Oddernes Church

Oddernes Church is the oldest building in Kristiansand from c. 1040. It was originally built of stone and the tower was later made of wood. The chancel has rubble walls and a semi-circular apse. In the 1630s the church was extended by 8 meters after a gift of funds from King Christian IV in connection with a visit in 1635. The money was used for major repairs in the years 1642-1644 and in 1699 for constructing the bell to ...
Founded: c. 1040 | Location: Kristiansand, Norway

Hurum Church

Hurum Church dates from c. 1150. The pulpit was a gift from the wife of naval hero, Ivar Huitfeldt. This is the location of the family Huitfeldt tomb which dates from 1750. Several coins from the 13th century were found from the church during the archaeological excavation in 1972.
Founded: c. 1150 | Location: Klokkarstua, Norway

Nes Church Ruins

Nes Church was built originally in the 1100s and has been enlarged several times. It was burned down in the war against Swedish in 1567 and rebuilt later. In 1697 it was transformed to cross shape. Nes church was destroyed by lightning in 1854. The restoration began in 1924. The altarpiece, font and pulpit survived from fire and were located to new Nes church in 1860s.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Nes, 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

Nore Stave Church

Dendrochronological dating of wood samples indicate that Nore stave church was built after 1167. The church was built with galleries, a chancel and cross naves - an architectural style that was unique in Europe during the Middle Ages. This style is called the Nummedals-type. The church also has a central mast, that was originally the support for a tower, mostly likely containing church bells. The walls and ceiling of the ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Nore og Uvdal, 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

Stødle Church

Stødle Church was built originally in 1160 and restored in 1650, 1879 and 1958. It was the private chapel of Erling Skakke (1115–1179), who was a famous Norwegian Earl. The church bells date from the Middle Ages.
Founded: 1160 | Location: Etne, 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

Hove Church

Hove Church was built around the year 1170. Historians believe it was built by a great man who belonged to the very upper echelon within the Norwegian aristocracy. They say he had built this as a private chapel. It"s a small church with seating for only about 35 people. Peter Andreas Blix was an architect who bought the run down church in 1880, and he restored the church from 1883-1888. Blix"s goal was to finis ...
Founded: 1170 | Location: Vik i Sogn, Norway

Skoger Old Church

Skoger Old Church was built of stone probably between 1192 and 1220. the major restoration was made in the late 1620s. The pulpit, altar and galleries date from the 17th century. In 1754 Skoger church was sold to local peasants. The new church was completed in 1885 and the old one was no longer used for worships. The latest restorations were made in the late 1900s and today the church is used in summertime.
Founded: 1192-1220 | Location: Drammen, Norway

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Trinity Sergius Lavra

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a world famous spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular site of pilgrimage and tourism. It is the most important working Russian monastery and a residence of the Patriarch. This religious and military complex represents an epitome of the growth of Russian architecture and contains some of that architecture’s finest expressions. It exerted a profound influence on architecture in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe.

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, was founded in 1337 by the monk Sergius of Radonezh. Sergius achieved great prestige as the spiritual adviser of Dmitri Donskoi, Great Prince of Moscow, who received his blessing to the battle of Kulikov of 1380. The monastery started as a little wooden church on Makovets Hill, and then developed and grew stronger through the ages.

Over the centuries a unique ensemble of more than 50 buildings and constructions of different dates were established. The whole complex was erected according to the architectural concept of the main church, the Trinity Cathedral (1422), where the relics of St. Sergius may be seen.

In 1476 Pskovian masters built a brick belfry east of the cathedral dedicated to the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. The church combines unique features of early Muscovite and Pskovian architecture. A remarkable feature of this church is a bell tower under its dome without internal interconnection between the belfry and the cathedral itself.

The Cathedral of the Assumption, echoing the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Moscow Kremlin, was erected between 1559 and 1585. The frescoes of the Assumption Cathedral were painted in 1684. At the north-western corner of the Cathedral, on the site of the western porch, in 1780 a vault containing burials of Tsar Boris Godunov and his family was built.

In the 16th century the monastery was surrounded by 6 meters high and 3,5 meters thick defensive walls, which proved their worth during the 16-month siege by  Polish-Lithuanian invaders during the Time of Trouble. They were later strengthened and expanded.

After the Upheaval of the 17th century a large-scale building programme was launched. At this time new buildings were erected in the north-western part of the monastery, including infirmaries topped with a tented church dedicated to Saints Zosima and Sawatiy of Solovki (1635-1637). Few such churches are still preserved, so this tented church with a unique tiled roof is an important contribution to the Lavra.

In the late 17th century a number of new buildings in Naryshkin (Moscow) Baroque style were added to the monastery.

Following a devastating fire in 1746, when most of the wooden buildings and structures were destroyed, a major reconstruction campaign was launched, during which the appearance of many of the buildings was changed to a more monumental style. At this time one of the tallest Russian belfries (88 meters high) was built.

In the late 18th century, when many church lands were secularized, the chaotic planning of the settlements and suburbs around the monastery was replaced by a regular layout of the streets and quarters. The town of Sergiev Posad was surrounded by traditional ramparts and walls. In the vicinity of the monastery a number of buildings belonging to it were erected: a stable yard, hotels, a hospice, a poorhouse, as well as guest and merchant houses. Major highways leading to the monastery were straightened and marked by establishing entry squares, the overall urban development being oriented towards the centrepiece - the Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra.

In 1993, the Trinity Lavra was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.