Medieval churches in Norway

Ringsaker Church

Ringsaker Church was built originally in the mid-1100s. The transept was added in the 1200s and the 68m high spire in 1652 (restored in 1694). The most valuable detail in the church is the altar triptych with 127 figures. It was made in Antwerpen around 1520 by Robert Moreau. The pulpit and font represent Baroque style and were made by Lars Jensen Borg in 1704. The crucifix dates from 1683.
Founded: c. 1150 | Location: Ringsaker, Norway

Hof Church

Hof Church was built around 1150. The tower was added in 1662 and the porch in 1958. The altarpiece dates from 1637.
Founded: c. 1150 | Location: Hof, 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

Herøy Church

Herøy Church dates from the 12th century and represents the same Romanesque style as Dønnes and Alstahaug churches. It was probably built to the site of earlier pagan temple. The crucifix from the 1300s is today in Bergen Museum. The great chandelier dates from 1655. The altarpiece and pulpit were made in 1764.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Herøy, Norway

St. Jetmund Church

Saint Jetmund Church was built in 1150 and torn down in 1864 when it was replaced by the newly built Vanylven Church in nearby Slagnes. The stone was reused around the area in other buildings. In 1957, it was decided to rebuild the old church on its old foundations using the old plans of the church. Many of the original stones were reclaimed and reused in the new church. The new church is now a museum. The church was nam ...
Founded: 1150 | Location: Vanylven, Norway

Værnes Church

Værnes Church, the oldest building in Stjørdal, was built around 1085-1100. It was nearly started at the same time as the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim. Under the high roofs the centuries have written their autographs. Pictures of gods and devil´s masks fight ruthlessly about the hegemony in the human soul. The dramaturgy of the Middle Age comes alive in the life- or death battle that unfolds before ou ...
Founded: 1085-1100 | Location: Stjørdal, 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

Skedsmo Church

Skedsmo Church was originally built in 1180, but it was enlarged and reconstructed in 1869. The church is located to the site where the first wooden church was already in 1022. The pulpit dates from 1578 and altar from 1693. The font dates from c. 1200, as well as the wooden sculpture of St. Olaf. The original sculpture is today in museum, but there is a copy in Skedsmo Church.
Founded: 1180 | Location: Skedsmo, Norway

Tromøy Church

Tromøy church was originally a Romanesque stone church built around 1150. The church was reconstructed to a cruciform church between 1748-1758, and today this fabulous church is one of Arendal's oldest sights. The church is an old seamark, and due to the unsheltered location, the church is without a tower. The interior of Tromøy church is beautiful. There are wood carvings and painted interior from the 1750s, restored i ...
Founded: 1150 | Location: Færvik, 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

Kvinnherad Church

Kvinnherad Church was built around 1250 and restored in 1670 and 1913. It was probably the main church for the region in the Middle Ages, but in 1678 it became a private church for the baron of the Barony Rosendal, and was not parish church again until 1910. The church has a rectangular nave and choir, is little changed since the Middle Ages. All of the Gothic portals and windows are kept, which are relatively rare. The w ...
Founded: 1250 | Location: Kvinnherad, Norway

Hesby Church

Hesby stone church was built around 1250 and it was first time mentioned in written document Diplomatarium Norvegicum in 1309. The large restoration took place in 1959-1960.
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Finnøy, Norway

Tanum Church

Tanum church was built probably in the 12th century and it has 216 seats. It was restored in 1910-1911 by the architect Haldor Børve. Tanum church containts valuable items, such as baptismal font made of Gotland sandstone from the 1250s and the Renaissance style pulpit made in 1591. The altarpiece was painted by Eilif Peterssen in the 1890s.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Larvik, Norway

Dønnes Church

Dønnes Church was built during the 1200s, probably by the order of Paul Vågaskalm (died in 1245). The chapel was added in the 1500s and tower in 1866. The church has a Madonna statue from the 1200s and St. Lawrence statue from the 1400s. The pulpit is Baroque and altarpiece from 1670.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Dønna, Norway

Eidsvoll Church

Eidsvoll church dates from c. 1200, but it has been destroyed by fire and rebuilt several times. The fine altarpiece dates from 1765, but it was also restored in 1883, 1915 and 1969.
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Eidsvoll, Norway

Frogner Old Church

Frogner Old Church was built around 1180 and it is a small stone church with only 90 seats. It was destroyed by fire in 1918. The restoration was completed during next decades.
Founded: 1180 | Location: Sørum, Norway

Norderhov Church

Norderhov church was originally built in c. 1170. It has been rebuilt and expanded into a cruciform church. The construction may be related to the establishment of the Diocese of Hamar in 1153. Norderhov Church has a recorded history dating to an announcement for Ringerike issued in 1298 by Duke Hakon Magnusson, who later became King Haakon V. The church is most known for it close connection with Anna Colbjørnsdatter and ...
Founded: c. 1170 | Location: Hønefoss, Norway

Andebu Church

Andebu stone church dates from the 12th century and it was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and St. Nicholas. On the south wall of the nave is a picture by the Dutchman Pieter Aertsen, painted in 1569. For many years this picture was the altarpiece in The Church of our Lady in Tønsberg. The altarpiece of Andebu church comprises three paintings framed by columns, with a larger picture of the Ascension above it, probably ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Andebu, 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

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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.