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

São Jorge Castle

São Jorge Castle is a Moorish castle occupying a commanding hilltop overlooking the historic centre of the Portuguese city of Lisbon and Tagus River. The strongly fortified citadel dates from medieval period of Portuguese history, and is one of the main tourist sites of Lisbon.

Although the first fortifications on this hilltop date from the 2nd century BC, archaeological excavations have identified a human presence in the Tagus valley as far back as the 6th century BC. The first fortification was, presumably, erected in 48 BC, when Lisbon was classified as a Roman municipality.

The hill was first used by indigenous Celtic tribes, then by Phoenicians, Greeks, and Carthaginians as a defensible outpost that was later expropriated by Roman, Suebic, Visigothic, and Moorish peoples. During the 10th century, the fortifications were rebuilt by Muslim Berber forces, these included the walls or Cerca Moura ("Moorish Encirclement").

Kingdom

In the context of the Christian Reconquista, the castle and the city of Lisbon were freed from Moorish rule in 1147 by Afonso Henriques and northern European knights in the Siege of Lisbon during the Second Crusade; this victory was the only notable success of that failed crusade. According to an oft-repeated legend, the knight Martim Moniz, noticing that one of the doors to the castle was open, prevented the Moors from closing it by throwing his own body into the breach, thus allowing Christian soldiers to enter at the cost of his own life. With the taking of the castle Christian forces were able to maintain the defense of Lisbon until the end of the 12th century.

When Lisbon became the capital of the kingdom in 1255, the castle served as the alcáçova, a fortified residence for Afonso III, in his role as governor. It was extensively renovated around 1300 by King Denis I, transforming the Moorish alcáçova into the Royal Palace of the Alcáçova. Between 1373 and 1375, King Ferdinand I ordered the building of the Cerca Nova or Cerca Fernandina, the walled compound that enclosed the entirety of the castle. The master builders João Fernandes and Vasco Brás were responsible for its construction. This wall, which partially replaced the old Moorish walls, was designed to encircle previously unprotected parts of the city. Completed in two years, it had 77 towers and a perimeter of 5,400 metres.

The castle and the city resisted the forces of Castile several times during the 14th century (notably in 1373 and in 1383–1384). It was during this period (the late 14th century) that the castle was dedicated to Saint George by King John I, who had married the English princess Philippa of Lancaster. Saint George, the warrior-saint, was normally represented slaying a dragon, and very was popular in both countries.

From this point onward many of the kingdom's records were housed in the Torre de Ulisses, also known as the Torre Albarrã, until the reign of Manuel I. The Portuguese National Archive is still referred to as the Torre do Tombo. Between 1448 and 1451, the master builder was paid several stipends for his work on the palace. These public works continued until 1452, with additional payments being made for labor and materials to convert the building from a fortified castle to a royal residence.

Around the early 16th century, following the construction of the Ribeira Palace beside the Tagus river, the Palace of Alcáçova began to lose its importance. An earthquake occurring in 1531 further damaged the old castle, contributing further to its decay and neglect. In 1569, King Sebastian ordered the rebuilding of the royal apartments in the castle, intending to use it as his official residence. As part of the rebuilding, in 1577 Filippo Terzi demolished one of the towers near the principal facade of the Church of Loreto. However, many of the works were never completed after the young king's apparent death during the Battle of Alcácer Quibir. The following Portuguese dynastic crisis opened the way for sixty years of Spanish rule and the castle was converted into military barracks and a prison. On 30 December 1642, Teodósio de Frias the Younger was appointed master builder to continue the works begun by his father, Luís de Frias, and his grandfather, Teodósio de Frias. This was part of a greater plan by the Spanish forces to recommission the fortification.

However, after Portugal regained its independence following the Portuguese Restoration War, the works were taken over by the Portuguese government. On 6 November 1648, Nicolau de Langres was called upon to take over the design, execution and construction of a new fortification that would surround the Castle of São Jorge and the city walls of Lisbon. In 1650 the military architect Mateus do Couto was named master builder of the project and reconstruction took on a new formality: although the military engineer João Gillot built new walls in 1652, construction again followed Couto's plans between 1657 and 1733. In 1673, the Soldiers' Hospital, dedicated to São João de Deus, was installed on the grounds beside the Rua do Recolhimento. At the end of the 17th century the Recolhimento do Castelo was constructed along the southeast angle of the courtyard, and in 1733, new projects were initiated by master Custódio Vieira.

The 1755 Lisbon earthquake severely damaged the castle and contributed to its continuing decay: apart from the walls of the old castle, the soldier's hospital and the Recolhimento were left in ruins. The necessity of maintaining a supporting military force within the capital city required expansion of the site's role of garrison and presidio. From 1780 to 1807, the charitable institution Casa Pia, dedicated to the education of poor children, was established in the citadel, while soldiers continued to be garrisoned on site. Inspired by the events of the earthquake and the following tsunami, the first geodetic observatory in Portugal was constructed in 1788 at the top of one of the towers of the castle, later referred to as the Torre do Observatório.

Republic

As part of the commemorative celebrations marking the foundation of nationhood and restoration of independence, the government of António de Oliveira Salazar initiated extensive renovations at the site. Most of the incongruous structures added to the castle compound in previous centuries were demolished and there was a partial restoration of the Recolhimento. In addition, on 25 October 1947, a monument dedicated to Afonso Henriques, presented by the city of Porto, of a replica created by Soares dos Reis (in 1887) was installed on the grounds.