Medieval churches in Norway

Siljan Church

Siljan church is a long church built around 1150-1200. Its present form dates from 1838 when the church was extended. The 30 meter high church tower was built in 1903. The church contains a medieval font and crucifix.
Founded: 1150-1200 | Location: Siljan, 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

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 altarpiece and pulpi ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Larvik, 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

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

Rakkestad Church

Rakkestad Church is a Romanesque medieval church with a rectangular nave and narrow choir, probably built in ca. 1200. Rakkestad church is first mentioned in written sources in 1370. It was taken over by Rakkestad parish in 1860 and restored in 1875.
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Rakkestad, Norway

Selbu Church

Selbu Church was built around the year 1150 and the tower was added a century later. The church was enlarged in the 19th century. The pulpit and altarpiece dates from the 18th century and represents rural Baroque style.
Founded: c. 1150 | Location: Selbu, Norway

Mo Church Ruins

Mo church ruin probably date back to around 1215, and this may well be Norway`s smallest free-standing stone church from medieval times. It is believed that it was originally a privately owned church. However, Mo parish is mentioned in both 1368 and 1400. The oldest coins found are form King Sverre`s reign 1177-1202, and the most recent ones are from reign of King Hans who died in 1513. These indicate the period during w ...
Founded: 1215 | Location: Slidre, Norway

Ranem Church

The white stone Ranem Church was originally constructed in 1187. The altarpiece dates from 1678.
Founded: 1187 | Location: Overhalla, Norway

Hustad Church

Hustad Church was built in the mid-1100s. It is a preserved but no longer used as a regular parish church. Some unique aspects of this small church is that most of the interior items such as the pews are original, and the cemetery is surrounded by a wooden fence, the only such preserved fence in all of Trøndelag.
Founded: c. 1150 | Location: Inderøy, Norway

Snåsa Church

Snåsa Church stone church was originally built in c. 1220, but it was remodeled and enlarged in 1869. The Neo-Gothic style church now seats about 500 people.
Founded: 1220 | Location: Snåsa, Norway

Mære Church

Mære Church is famous for its medieval roof with heads (human, beast and mythological) projecting from the top of its walls. The stone church likely dates to between 1150 and 1200. This is suggested by stylistic dating of its dedicatory inscription as well as coins dating from the reign of King Sverre (1183-1202) found during excavations. The pagan site buried under the church may possibly be the one referred to in ...
Founded: 1150-1200 | Location: Sparbu, Norway

Øyestad Church

The Gothic Øyestad Church was built of stone around 1200. The eastern wall was demolished in the 1600s. Øyestad church was destroyed by fire in 1900. It was restored and the interior completely replaced in 1902.
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Rykene, 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

Bønsnes Church

Bønsnes Church is a small rectangle-shaped church from the built in the late 1200s. The medieval church was abandoned in the 16th and 17th centirues, but the restoration began in 1680 and used again as a parish church since 1727. The tower was erected in 1862. Inside Bønsnes Church there is a preserved sculpture of the Virgin Mary with child from the 1200s, and a crucifix from the late 1400s. The pulpit in Bønsnes Chu ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hole, Norway

Haug Church

Haug Church was built in the 13th century and it was first time mentioned in 1361. The church was enlarged and restored couple of times in the 18th century and again in 1878. The altar dates from the 19th century.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Ringerike, Norway

Fiskum Old Church

Fiskum Old Church was built in c. 1250 and it was dedicated to St. Olaf. The sacristy was added in the 1700s and the church restored in the 1800s. The pulpit dates from 1650, altar and font from the 1700s.
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Darbu, Norway

Rokoberget Church Ruins

The church ruin at Rokoberget is the remains of a church dedicated to the archangel St. Michael. The church was built of stone and was sited at the top of the Rokoberget hill. St. Michael"s church was first mentioned in a papal letter of 1254 and has been a wayside church, but historians disagree about whether the passers-by were pilgrims or Swedes on their way to the market at Hamar. The ruins, which are accessible ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Løten, Norway

Østre Gausdal Church

Østre Gausdal Church was built between 1250-1300. During the Seven Years" War Swedish troops burned it in 1567. In 1700 the church was enlarged and the new pulpit was added. The organs were built by August Nielsen in 1888.
Founded: 1250-1300 | Location: Gausdal, Norway

Hoff Church

Hoff stone church was built in the 12th century. Hoff church is similar in construction to the old cathedrals at Hamar, Nikolai Church in Gran, Old Aker Church, and Ringsaker Church. The joint model for these churches was the historic Hallvards Cathedral, the main church of medieval Oslo. After 1658, Hallvards Cathedral was demolished with only ruins left of the former cathedral in Oslo. Hoff stone church was built of li ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Østre Toten, 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.