Medieval churches in Norway

Alstadhaug Church

Alstadhaug stone church was built during the 12th century (probably around 1180) and has been remodeled several times since then. The apsis was added around 1250 and the sacristy, the Maria chapel, around 1500. The porch dates from the 18th century. The present steeple was built in 1788. A major restoration took place in 1946-52.
Founded: c. 1180 | Location: Levanger, Norway

Høvåg Church

Høvåg Church was originally a 10m long stone church built around 1150. In 1767 it was enlarged and in 1831 a wing was added on to the north facing wall. The restauration was completed in 1831. The altar is a triptych from c. 1620. The pulpit was carved around 1660.
Founded: 1150 | Location: Høvåg, Norway

Fjære Church

Fjære church was built of stone in c. 1150. The most valuable detail is a finely sculpted head of a man in stone over the south door, dating from before 1150. The church's unique and beautiful baptismal font, in the High Gothic style from the Middle Ages. Olavskilden, a fountain associated with St. Olav the Holy. The Terje Vigen stone monument in memory of the brave men of the 1807–1814 war. The stone monument was erec ...
Founded: 1150 | Location: Grimstad, Norway

Gjerpen Church

Gjerpen church is one of the oldest churches in Norway. It is believed the church was consecrated 28 May 1153 to the apostles Peter and Paul. The church represents the Romanesque style with a cruciform plan after the later additions. The church was extended in 1781 and 1871. The new interior was made by Emanuel Vigeland (1875-1948), this includes the mosaic 'Den bortkomne sønns hjemkomst', glasspaintings, ...
Founded: c. 1153 | Location: Skien, Norway

Skjee Church

Skjee Church was built between 1190-1200. It has a Christ picture from 1692 and Renaissance style pulpit.
Founded: 1190-1200 | Location: Stokke, Norway

Vassås Church

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

Haslum Church

Haslum church was built in c. 1190 in Romanesque style. It is possible that it was built by Cistercian monks who also built Halvard Cathedral in Oslo. The original long nave was altered to cross shape in the 1200s. In 1300 there were 12 altars in the church. Haslum church was reconstructed in 1853 and restored to the medieval appearance in 1924. The wooden statues of the Virgin Mary and the Bishop are copies of medieval ...
Founded: 1190 | Location: Bærum, 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

Heggen Church

Heggen Church was built in the 1200s. It was modified to the cross-shaped church in 1697 and enlarged in 1832 & 1878. The altarpiece and pulpit date from the late 1600s.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Modum, Norway

Old Glemmen Church

Old Glemmen Church was built in the Romanesque style in the 12th century. It is the oldest building in Fredrikstad. The baptismal font, made of soapstone from Aremark, dates from ca. 1225. Figure of the apostle Thomas was made around 1450 and a christ figure in the 16th century. It is a remnant of a large crucifix, probably from Lübeck. Altarpiece dates from 1708, pulpit from 1731.
Founded: c. 1182 | Location: Fredrikstad, Norway

Tanum Church

Tanum church was probably built between 1100-1130 and enlarged in the early 1700s. The restoration took place in 1900s. In 1674, the Krefting family built a sacristy with burial chambers beneath it on the north side of the chancel. However, this soon became too small, and in 1713 a larger burial chapel was built on the north side of the church, wall to wall with the sacristy. In total, around 40 members of the family were ...
Founded: 1100-1130 | Location: Bærum, Norway

Fon Church

Fon church dates from the 1100s and is built in the Romanesque style. It has 130 seats. The current bell tower was erected in 1839. Fon church has a pulpit from 1603 and altarpiece from 1633.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Revetal, Norway

Styrvoll Church

Styrvoll church was probably built between 1150 and 1200. The wooden porch and spire were added in 1870.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Lardal, Norway

Haltdalen Stave Church

Haltdalen Stave Church was originally located in Haltdalen, but today it is on display at the Sverresborg museum in Trondheim. The church was probably built in the 1170s. The church on display is a rebuilt version of two churches from Ålen and Haltdalen. The western wall and the portal is from the old Ålen church. This is a single-nave stave church of the east Scandinavian-style, and it is the only one that is ...
Founded: 1170s | Location: Trondheim, Norway

Vestre Moland Church

Vestre Moland Church was built of stone in c. 1150 and thick walls are still a part of the nave. The church was mentioned in official documents in 1347. The original timber-work tower was added in the 1660s. Work on the sacristy was started in 1742. In 1797 extension side chapels gave the church a cruciform shape as it appears today.
Founded: 1150 | Location: Lillesand, Norway

Tjølling Church

Tjølling and Kaupang were one of the oldest and biggest Viking settlements in Scandinavia. The Tjølling Church, built in the early 1100s, had a connection to the Viking trading centre and ancient Huseby farm. The church was damaged by fire in 1360 and rebuilt. A rare earthquake damaged it again in 1750s. The restoration took place in 1762-1767 and the appearance was modified to the Rococo style. The altarpie ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Larvik, Norway

Kvernes Stave Church

From ancient times Kvernes has been of great religious and cultural importance at Nordmøre. The excavation of a white phallus stone, a sacred symbol of fertility, supports this fact. The stave church was built around year 1300 and has a rather large main nave (16×7,5 m) with external diagonal props supporting the walls. Several repairs/reconstructions have been carried out. In 1633 the stave-built chancelwas ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Averøy, 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

Tingelstad Old Church

Tingelstad Old Church is a Romanesque stone church in Gran. Dendrochronological dating shows that parts of the timber within the church were felled between 1219-1220. The original name for this church was 'St. Petri Church', although presently it is called Tingelstad old church (Tingelstad gamle kirke) as it was replaced by a new church in 1866. The congregation also had a stave church (Grindaker stave church), ...
Founded: c. 1219 | Location: Gran, Norway

Hedrum Church

Hedrum Church was built of stone around 1100 and has 260 seats. The church has a rectangular nave, square choir and apse. Archaeological excavations show that the apse is added later. The structure was extended by four meters in 1666. The west part with the portal and door openings are from after the Reformation. Hedrum Church has a number of tombstones, which cover large parts of the floor of the church. Hedrum Church ce ...
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Larvik, Norway

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Königstein Fortress

Königstein Fortress is located on the left bank of the River Elbe. It is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe. The 9.5 hectare rock plateau rises 240 metres above the Elbe and has over 50 buildings, some over 400 years old, that bear witness to the military and civilian life in the fortress. The rampart run of the fortress is 1,800 metres long with walls up to 42 metres high and steep sandstone faces. In the centre of the site is a 152.5 metre deep well, which is the deepest in Saxony and second deepest well in Europe.

The fortress, which for centuries was used as a state prison, is still intact and is now one of Saxony's foremost tourist attractions, with 700,000 visitors per year.

By far the oldest written record of a castle on the Königstein is found in a deed by King Wenceslas I of Bohemia dating to the year 1233. It is probable that there had been a stone castle on the Königstein as early as the 12th century. The oldest surviving structure today is the castle chapel built at the turn of the 13th century. In the years 1563 to 1569 the 152.5 metre deep well was bored into the rock within the castle - until that point the garrison of the Königstein had to obtain water from cisterns and by collecting rainwater.

Between 1589 and 1591/97 Prince-Elector Christian I of Saxony and his successor had the castle developed into the strongest fortification in Saxony. The hill was now surrounded with high walls. Buildings were erected, including the Gatehouse (Torhaus), the Streichwehr, the Old Barracks (Alte Kaserne), the Christiansburg (Friedrichsburg) and the Old Armoury (Altes Zeughaus). The second construction period followed from 1619 to 1681, during which the John George Bastion was built. The third construction period is seen as the time from 1694 to 1756, which included the expansion of the Old Barracks. From 1722 to 1725, at the behest of August the Strong, coopers under Böttger built the enormous Königstein Wine Barrel, the greatest wine barrel in the world, in the cellar of the Magdalenenburg which had a capacity of 249,838 litres. It cost 8,230 thalers, 18 groschen and 9 pfennigs. The butt, which was once completely filled with country wine from the Meißen vineyards, had to be removed again in 1818 due to its poor condition. Because of Böttger, Königstein Fortress is also the site where European porcelain started.

Even after the expansion during those periods of time there continued to be modifications and additions on the extensive plateau. The Treasury (Schatzhaus) was built from 1854 to 1855. After the fortress had been incorporated in 1871 into the fortification system of the new German Empire, battery ramparts were constructed from 1870 to 1895 with eight firing points, that were to have provided all-round defence for the fortress in case of an attack that, in the event, never came. This was at this time that the last major building work was done on the fortress.

Because Königstein Fortress was regarded as unconquerable, the Saxon monarchs retreated to it from Wittenberg and later Dresden during times of crisis and also deposited the state treasure and many works of art from the famous Zwinger here; it was also used as a country retreat due to its lovely surroundings.

The fortress played an important role in the History of Saxony, albeit less as a result of military action. The Saxon Dukes and Prince-Electors used the fortress primarily as a secure refuge during times of war, as a hunting lodge and maison de plaisance, but also as a dreaded state prison. Its actual military significance was rather marginal.

Since 1955 the fortress has been an open-air, military history museum of high touristic value.