Medieval churches in Norway

Old Veøy Church

The Old Veøy stone church was built around the year 1200. The church was located on Veøya due to the importance of the great Romsdalsfjorden during the Viking Age. The church was used for centuries until 1901 when a royal decree was handed down to discontinue its active use. The church continued to be used until 1907 when the new Veøy Church was built on the mainland. The new church was located there ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Molde, Norway

Sakshaug Old Church

Sakshaug Old Church is one of the oldest churches in Trøndelag, dating back to about 1150. The church was consecrated by Archbishop Eysteinn Erlendsson in 1184 and was decommissioned in 1871 when the new Sakshaug Church was consecrated. The ownership of the church was transferred to the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Norwegian Monuments in 1873 and was renovated from 1910 to 1958 after having been without a roof ...
Founded: c. 1150 | Location: Inderøy, Norway

Logtun Church

The current Logtun Church dates probably from the 16th century, but there has been a church since the 12th century. It was left to decay in the 1860s when the church was completed. The restoration took place in the early 1900s. The altarpiece was made in 1652.
Founded: 16th century | Location: Frosta, 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

Vereide Church

Vereide Church was originally built in the 1100s and the oldest parts of the present church date back to that time. This is the oldest surviving stone church in the Nordfjord region. The church was extensively remodeled in the 1600s and a few times since then. The present church seats about 460 people.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Gloppen, Norway

Kvamsøy Church

Kvamsøy island is notable because it is home to the historic Kvamsøy Church which was built around the year 1300. It was the centre of the Kvamsøy parish for hundreds of years, serving the southern part of the present-day Balestrand municipality. The church was used until 1903 when it was closed down and replaced by the newly built Sæle Church, a short distance away on the mainland.
Founded: c. 1300 | Location: Balestrand, Norway

Sørum Church

Sørum Church was inaugurated probably in 1166. The pulpit is a Renaissance work ad altarpiece dates from 1733. There is a rare wheel cross in the church cemetery dating from the 12th century.
Founded: 1166 | Location: Sørum, 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

Holt Church

Holt Church was built originally in the 1100s, but today it is one of the richest and largest Baroque style churches in Norway. The building was reconstructed in 1621, 1682 and 1737-1753. The medieval baptismal font is made of soapstone. The older triptych dates from the 16th century and the altar was made by Christen Paulsen in 1732.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Tvedestrand, Norway

Hole Church

Hole church dates from the 13th century. The original stone church was largely destroyed by fire in 1736. The church was rebuilt in 1737. Repairs, restorations and remodeling occurred during 1827 and 1909.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hole, Norway

Efteløt Church

Efteløt Church was built in c. 1184 and it was dedicated to Virgin Mary and John the Baptist. The large restoration took place in 1876 when the church was moved to Gothic style.
Founded: 1184 | Location: Kongsberg, 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

Kinn Church

Kinn Church was built in the second part of the 12th century. It is the oldest and the only one of its kind in the Sunnfjord region, and it is one of the most impressive medieval monuments in Western Norway. It was the main church in the parish of Kinn until 1882, when the new Florø Church was built in the newly founded city of Florø. Currently, Kinn Church is used only during the summer months. The church ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Kinn, Norway

Ænes Church

Ænes stone church was probably built between 1190-1220. The tower was erected in 1869. The pulpit dates from 1630 and altarpiece from 1766.
Founded: 1190-1220 | Location: Ænes, Norway

Balke Church

Balke Church was built around 1170 in Romanesque and early Gothic style. It was enlarged in 1714. The altarpiece from 1526 is unique in Norway. The font dates from 1719 and pulpit from 1822.
Founded: 1170 | Location: Østre Toten, Norway

Lunner Church

Lunner church dates from the 12th century. It was originally only a stone church with a circular stone tower at the west side. On the image the original stone church can be seen on the right hand side. Sometime between 1780 – 1790, the tower was dismantled and the church rebuilt into a cruciform church. This can be observed to the left in the picture. The newer parts in wood underwent restoration work in 1987 &nda ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Lunner, Norway

Eidanger Church

Eidanger church was originally a relatively simple Romanesque stone church, probably built in ca. 1150. The church was rebuilt in 1787 and got new sacristy in 1981. Altarpiece, glass painting and the pulpit date from 1991. The church has two bells; one from 1720 and another from 1940.
Founded: 1150/1787 | Location: Porsgrunn, Norway

Sauherad Church

Sauherad Church is a stone long church built in Romanesque style in the 12th century. The church is known for a fresco in the chancel which was uncovered during restoration in 1953. The fresco, known as 'The Thousand Demons', depicts a myriad of fantastic devil faces.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Sauherad, Norway

Ulnes Church

Ulnes Church is a stone church built around 1265, and was first time mentioned in documents in 1307. The choir comprises a very old baptismal font cover. A female figure from the 13th or 14th century is displayed in a glass case in the entrance hall. This is one half of a figure illustrating the meeting between Mary and Elisabeth. The church used to have an altar front from the period 1325-1350, showing St. Margareth, St. ...
Founded: c. 1265 | Location: Nord-Aurdal, Norway

Slidredomen

Slidredomen is the old principal parish church in Valdres, dating back to the 1100s. The church was mentioned in writing for the first time in a letter from the pope in 1264, and it was then referred to as 'ecclesie Sancte Marie De Slidrum'. It also features the inscription 'Maria' in runic letters. The south-facing main entrance is equipped with medieval fittings in wrought iron and measuring stick. A ...
Founded: c. 1268 | Location: Vestre Slidre, 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.