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

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

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 the small island o ...
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

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 ​​by Nicolaus Petr ...
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

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.