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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.