Medieval churches in Norway

Sande Church

Sande Church was built in Romanesque style between 1066-1093. The baptismal font dates from the 1100s.
Founded: 1066-1093 | Location: Sande i Vestfold, Norway

Skjeberg Church

Skjeberg church was built around 1100 and the Gothic entrance portal was added later. The Romanesque baptismal font is on of the finest in Norway with reliefs depicting Christ with Apostles.
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Skjeberg, Norway

Skiptvet Church

Skiptvet church is a medieval stone church built around 1150-1200. It was restored and expanded after damaged by fire in 1762. The pulpit and altarpiece were also added then.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Skiptvet, Norway

Steigen Church

The Steigen stone church was originally built around the year 1250, and it has since been renovated and expanded several times. In the 17th century the church was damaged several times by storms and lightning. The interior was changed in the late 1800s when it was restored. The chandelier dates from 1684. Between 1963-1965 the church was restored to the medieval appearance. The present church seats about 400 people.
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Steigen, Norway

Old Edøy Church

Old Edøy Church was built around the year 1190. It has had numerous renovations over the years to enlarge it and repair it. After several hundred years of use, it was too small and old to continue as the main church for the parish, so it was decided to build a new Edøy Church. The new church would be built to the north, on the island of Smøla instead of the more isolated location of the old church on ...
Founded: 1190 | Location: Smøla, Norway

Tingvoll Church

Tingvoll Church is one of the few remaining old stone churches that was built in Norway. There is some uncertainty as to when it was actually constructed, but records indicate it was between 1150 and 1200. The church is 32 metres long and the steeple and spire (added in 1787) is 36 metres tall. The 1.8-metre thick walls have corridors inside, both on the south side and on the north side. The corridors lead to steep stairs ...
Founded: 1150-1200 | Location: Tingvoll, Norway

Lørenskog Church

Lørenskog Church was probably built in 1150-1250. There is a sculpture of St. Lawrence from the 1100s. The altarpiece dates from 1647 and pulpit from 1658.
Founded: 1150-1250 | Location: Lørenskog, Norway

Røyken Church

The first written record of the Røyken Church is in Eysteinn Erlendsson"s 'Red Book' in 1392. The church was however built already in 1229. It has a rectangular nave with stone walls that are around 2 meters thick. The altarpiece dates from the 1600s.
Founded: 1229 | Location: Røyken, Norway

Holdhus Church

Holdhus Church was originally built in 1306 and enlarged in 1725 and 1836. The most valuable item in the church is a Madonna sculpture, made of limestone in 1450s. The pulpit dates from 1570.
Founded: 1306 | Location: Eikelandsosen, Norway

Vassås Church

Vassås Church was built around 1200 and enlarged in 1846.
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Hof, Norway

Nykirke

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

Skaun Church

Skaun Church was built in 1183. There are some medieval frescoes survived. The pulpit was designed by Ole Bildsnider in 1665. The Baroque altarpiece dates from 1773.
Founded: 1183 | Location: Skaun, Norway

Old Gildeskål Church

Old Gildeskål stone church was built around the year 1130. In 1851, a new law was passed that said that all rural churches had to be able to fit at least 30% of the parish members in the church building. Since this church could only seat about 130 people, it was too small, therefore a new church had to be built for the parish. It was decided that the new church would be built on the same site, just west of the old church ...
Founded: c. 1130 | Location: Gildeskål, Norway

Søndeled Church

Søndeled Church was built around 1150 and restored in 1752, 1768 and 1921-1924. In 1752 it was bought by locals, enlarged and the tower was erected. The altar was made by Ole Nielsen Weierholt in 1788. The old altarpiece painting from c. 1650 is still located in the nave. The pulpit was carved in the 1800s.
Founded: 1150 | Location: Søndeled, Norway

Dybvåg Church

Dypvåg Church dates from the early 1200s. The choir was demolished and reconstructed in the 1700s and the major restoration took place in 1921. The interior is rich and well-preserved. The font is original from c. 1200.
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Tvedestrand, Norway

Kviteseid Old Church

Kviteseid old church dates from c. 1260 and it has about 200 seats. The church is built in the Romanesque style. Dendrochronological analysis have revealed there may have been a wooden church already in the 1100s. The church has a special roof and ceiling with 20 fields painted by Thomas Blixus in 1714. The altarpiece dates from 1732. The church was restored in 1929 and 1969.
Founded: c. 1260 | Location: Kviteseid, Norway

Vanse Church

Vanse Church is probably one of the oldest churches in Norway; it originates most likely from 1037. In 1848 it was extended to become a cross church, and visiting church musicians often refer to it as a cathedral. The church was struck by fire in 1872, but was completely restored in 1875. The altarpiece was painted in 1866 by G. H. Lammers. The church is built of stone with chalk plaster, and with its 1100 seats, it is th ...
Founded: 1037 | Location: Vanse, Norway

Hobøl Church

Hobøl Church is considered to be one of Norway"s best preserved medieval churches. The church was built in granite in Romanesque style at the end of the 12th century (around 1175). The baptismal font with granite basin and steatite base dates from medieval times and is probably as old as the church itself. The altarpiece dates from c. 1600 and pulpit was a gift from Adrian Busch in 1602 and is made ​R ...
Founded: c. 1175 | Location: Hobøl, Norway

Hvaler Church

Hvaler church is probably one of the oldest in Norway. According carbon dating methods on wood samples analyzed in 1960 it was originally built between 920 and 1080 AD. The current church nave dates mainly from the 12-13th centuries. Archeologists carried out extensive excavations during the restoration from 1953 to 1956. They discoverede there was a fireplace under the foundations dating from the age between 120 BC and 8 ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Skjærhalden, Norway

Ørland Church

Ørland Church was built in 1342 out of stone. The 60cm thick walls are whitewashed stone. None of the original furnishings remain, but the walls are original.
Founded: 1342 | Location: Ørland, 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.