Medieval churches in Norway

St. Olav's Church Ruins

St. Olav"s Church stone church was built before 1150 and probably Telemark"s largest stone church in former times. It had a number of unusual building features, including lektorium and a separate room for earthly values, which today is called 'Mary"s Chapel'. Probably the church was the main church in Grenland, a kind of 'county church' and therefore had the highest status of all churche ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Bamble, Norway

Tanum Church

Tanum church was built probably in the 12th century and it has 216 seats. It was restored in 1910-1911 by the architect Haldor Børve. Tanum church containts valuable items, such as baptismal font made of Gotland sandstone from the 1250s and the Renaissance style pulpit made in 1591. The altarpiece was painted by Eilif Peterssen in the 1890s.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Larvik, Norway

Torpo Stave Church

Built in 1192, the Torpo stave church is the oldest building within the valley and traditional district of Hallingdal. The church was dedicated to Saint Margareta. The stave church was purchased by the municipality in 1875. It was initially planned to expand it with an annex to the east, but in 1879 it was decided instead to modernize the interior with new ceiling and gallery. Following protest from the Ancient Monuments ...
Founded: 1192 | Location: Ål, Norway

Rokke Church

Rokke church is a Romanesque stone church built in the 12th century. It was restored and rebuilt in 1886. Several remains of burials under the church floor were found then. Lars Ovesen made the church pulpit and altarpiece in 1685. Rokke church has one Olav Statue from the 1300s and three figures of saints.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Halden, 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

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

Rødenes Church

Rødenes church was built in c. 1230 and it underwent an extensive restoration in 1703-1709. It was privately owned from 1729-1849 before moved to the municipality. Altarpiece dates from the 1720s and was given by Chr. Hansen Sarpsborg, who was commander of Basmo fortress.
Founded: c. 1230 | Location: Ørje, Norway

Byneset Church

Byneset Church is a medieval church consecrated to the saint Michael. The year consecration is not exactly known, but it is assumed that it was about 1180. The same mason signatures are also found at the Nidaros Cathedral, indicating that the same masons were used in the construction of both churches. The church is built in a Romanesque style and it is a stone 'long church'. The tower was built around 1650. In 1656, a 'we ...
Founded: c. 1180 | Location: Spongdal, Norway

St. Hallvard's Cathedral

St. Hallvard"s Cathedral (Hallvardskatedralen), the former Oslo Cathedral, was the earliest cathedral in Oslo. The cathedral was built at the height of the Old Town market square Oslo during the early 12th century, and was used as a church until about 1655. Besides being the bishop"s seat and religious center of eastern Norway for about 500 years, the cathedral was the coronation church, royal wedding church, ch ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Oslo, Norway

Holdhus Church

Holdhus Church was originally built in 1306 and enlarged in 1725 and 1836. The most valuable item in the church is a Madonna sculpture, made of limestone in 1450s. The pulpit dates from 1570.
Founded: 1306 | Location: Eikelandsosen, Norway

Frogner Old Church

Frogner Old Church was built around 1180 and it is a small stone church with only 90 seats. It was destroyed by fire in 1918. The restoration was completed during next decades.
Founded: 1180 | Location: Sørum, 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

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

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

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

Hedal Stave Church

The first reference to the Hedal Stave Church is from 1327. The original church was a much smaller single nave church built second half of 12th century. The west entrance remains from the original church. The front portal is one of the oldest, most richly ornamented and among the most beautiful in the whole country. It takes the form of three winged dragons, one on each side of the arch and pilasters of the entrance and o ...
Founded: c. 1160 | Location: Sør-Aurdal, Norway

Ranem Church

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

Hesby Church

Hesby stone church was built around 1250 and it was first time mentioned in written document Diplomatarium Norvegicum in 1309. The large restoration took place in 1959-1960.
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Finnøy, 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

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

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.