Medieval churches in Sweden

Ånimskog Church

The oldest parts of the Ånimskog church (a square floor area) were built in the early 13th century by an unknown master. In the beginning of the 17th century the eastern gable was removed and the church was enlarged to the east. The roof paintings were completed in 1739 by Hans Georg Schäffner. The font, made of sandstone, date from the 13th century. The red wooden bell tower was built in 1731.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Ånimskog, Sweden

Östra Ryd Church

Östra Ryd Church was built around the year 1300 and the nave and vaults were constructed around 1430. The church was rebuilt completely in the 1700s, when the tower was added. The altar screen is made of oak in 1488. The limestone font dates from the mid-1200s and wooden cruficixes from the 1400s. There is also a chapel of Brahe family, added in 1690-1693. They donated lot of valuable inventory to Östra Ryd chur ...
Founded: c. 1300 | Location: Östra Ryd, Sweden

Knutby Church

Knutby church is a medieval stone church built probably in the late 13th century. The sacristy was built during the 1300s or 1400s. The porch was added probably in the 1400s. The nave, together with the tall and wide chancel is covered by a single pitched roof. The interior is richly decorated with murals, more than any other of Uppland churches. Albertus Pictor was the author of the younger paintings depicting the life ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Knutby, Sweden

Öja Church

The chancel and apsis of Öja Church were built in the early 13th century. The high tower, used as a landmark for seafarers, was completed in the middle 1300’s by building master Egypticus. The mural paintings, made in different centuries, are worth seeing. The most beautiful artefact in the church is a cross made around 1275.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Gotland, Sweden

Skivarp Church

Skivarp Church was made of limestone probably in the 1150s. The vaulting was added in the 15th century and crow-stepped gable date also from the Middle Ages. The interior is decorated with frescoes made around the year 1500. The original medieval font is moved to the historical museum in Lund. The altar wall and pulpit date from the 17th century.
Founded: 1150s | Location: Skivarp, Sweden

Stora Kopparberg Church

Stora Kopparberg Church was built in the late 1400s and it is the oldest building in Falun. The star-shaped arches are an interesting architectural detail. The church has also a high tower with a dramatic spire. The triumph crucifix, Madonna sculpture and pietá date from the 15th century. The pulpit was made in 1618.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Falun, Sweden

Fors Church

Fors Church is first time mentioned in 1338. The major restoration occured in 1709 when the new choir was constructed and windows enlarged. The new sacristy was added in 1900. The paintings in ceilings date from 1746, made by Ditloff Ross. The font was made in 1200s, the Baroque pulpit in 1734 and organs in 1954.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Sjuntorp, Sweden

Silte Church

Silte Church dates from from the 13th century. During restorative work carried out in 1971-72, the remains of a stave church was however found under the floor of the presently visible church, pre-dating the present church with around one hundred years. The oldest part of the now visible stone church is the choir, dating from the middle of the century and in an early Gothic style. The nave is only slightly later, and appar ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Silte, Sweden

Kumla Church

Kumla Church was built around 1300 and included a longhouse and a small bell tower. In the end of the 15th century the wood roof was replaced by a brick star vaults. In the 18th century they made the windows bigger and built the bell tower. The church is famous for its beautiful frescoes by Albertus Pictor painted in 1482. The stained glass windows in the choir are the work of the Västerås artist Nils-Aron Berg ...
Founded: c. 1300 | Location: Sala, Sweden

Eskelhem Church

Eskelhem Church was preceded by a wooden church, of which nothing remains. Circa 1200 it was replaced by a stone church. The walls of the nave of the present church are all that remains of this edifice. The church was successively enlarged and rebuilt until it received its present form in the middle of the 14th century. Internally, the church is decorated with different sets of frescos, dating from the end of the 13th ce ...
Founded: 1200 | Location: Eskelhem, Sweden

Sjonhem Church

The oldest part of the Sjonhem church is the tower, which was built in the 13th century. Originally it was attached to a much smaller Romanesque church. The choir and nave was however torn down and replaced with the current structure during the middle of the 13th century. Inside, church frescos decorate the vaults; these also date from the 13th century. Also probably original are some stained glass windows. A crucifix on ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Sjonhem, Sweden

Västerplana Church

Västerplana Church date from the 12th century. In the 18th century the church was considered to be too small and therefore it was enlarged and transformed into a cruciform church. Thus the direction of its nave is no longer west to east but north to south, where the chancel is today. The northern arm of the cross was begun in 1724 and the southern one was finished in 1737. This new part of the church got a high altar ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Källby, Sweden

Åre Old Church

Åre Old Church was built in the late 12th century entirely in stone, with inspiration from contemporary Norwegian church buildings, since Jämtland then was a part of Norway. It is situated at the Saint Olaf Pilgrim's Route (S:t Olofleden), and nowadays is the seventeenth stop on the route that goes from Selånger Old Church ruins at Sundsvall, situated at the Gulf of Bothnia, and crosses the Scandinavian M ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Åre, Sweden

Väskinde Church

Väskinde church choir was built slightly after 1250, followed by the nave and church tower in circa 1280. The church has remained largely unaltered since the Middle Ages. The church is Gothic in style. Noteworthy is the southern, sculptured portal of the choir. Its rich ornamentation is unusual for Gotland and seems to reflect an influence from Westphalian churches. Väskinde Church also houses some notable fittings. Th ...
Founded: 1250 | Location: Väskinde, Sweden

Norrlanda Church

A first stone church was built on the site of current Norrlanda Church in the 12th century. To this church a Romanesque tower was added in the 13th century. The presently visible church tower is this tower, and the only remains of the first church. The nave and choir were torn down in the late 13th or early 14th century, and replaced with a new choir and sacristy. A new nave was built slightly later, in the middle of the ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Gothem, Sweden

Vreta Abbey

Vreta Abbey was the first nunnery in Sweden, initially Benedictine and later Cistercian, and one of the oldest in Scandinavia. The exact year of the foundation is not known. The abbey was founded by King Inge the Elder of Sweden and Queen Helena on the orders of Pope Paschal II, which gives a date range for the foundation: Paschal became pope in 1099; the date of Inge"s death is disputed, but probably occurred around ...
Founded: ca. 1100 | Location: Vreta Kloster, Sweden

Härad Church

The first stone church in Härad was completed in the late 1100s. The choir was added in 1400s and tower in 16265. The church was enlarged in 1760 with a transept. The most notable inventory is a sandstone reliquary, made in Gotland around 1180. The font dates from the 1200s and crucifix from 1300s.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Strängnäs, Sweden

Ösmo Church

The oldest part of the Ösmo Church was constructed in the latter part of the 12th century. The church was modernized in the 14th century, when the old chancel was demolished and replaced by one which was both taller and wider. The church largely gained its present appearance during the 15th century. The interior of the church is decorated with frescoes added just after the middle of the 15th century. It is said that ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Nynäshamn, Sweden

Sorunda Church

Sorunda church is an unusually large, medieval church. Its history goes back to the 12th century with major additions made in the 15th and 16th centuries (the current exterior dates mainly from 1540). The church contains burial chapels for local aristocratic families and several interior details dating from the Middle Ages, notably an unusually fine wooden sculpture by Herman Rode. The altar screen dates from the late 140 ...
Founded: 1540 | Location: Sorunda, Sweden

Gislöv Church

Gislöv Church chancel and naves dates back to the 1200s, and the tower was built in stages between the years 1760-1824. The original font descends from year 1656 and is the oldest inventory in the church. In year 1936 the vaults were reconstructed. They are richly decorated with frescoes and date from the 15th and 16th centuries. The renovation restored the church almost entirely in the condition it had been 500 year ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Trelleborg, Sweden

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.