Medieval churches in Sweden

Buttle Church

Buttle Church nave and western chancel were built in the late 1100s. It was rebuilt in the early 1200s and again in 1300s. There are frescoes mainly from the 1400s in vaults. The altarpiace dates also from 1400s and triumph cruficix from the 1100s (it is one of the oldest in Gotland). The font was made in mid-1200s and pulpit in early 1700s.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Romakloster, Sweden

Hamra Church

Hamra Church was built from the mid-13th century to early 14th century. The retable of sandstone dates from 1792. The triumph crucifix and font dates from the Middle Ages.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hamra, Sweden

När Church

The oldest part of the presently visible church at När is the tower, erected at the middle of the 13th century. Originally, it was designed to be able to function as a defensive tower, with arrowslits still visible on the first floor. The present nave and choir of the church were added to the tower around the year 1300. Of an earlier, Romanesque church on the same site no traces remain today. Externally, the church has ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: När, Sweden

Munka Ljungby Church

Munka Ljungby Church was probably built in the 12th Century by the monks of Herrevadkloster, who owned large tracts of land, including parts of Munka Ljungby, the name meaning Ljungby of the monks. The transepts date from the 1860s. The altarpiece is a copy of a painting by the 17th century artist Rubens.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ängelholm, Sweden

Säve Church

The Säve Church was erected in the early 13th century. It was first known as St. Olaf Church, after the saintly king Olaf II of Norway. The nave has a barrel vault, built in 1696. In 1704, the ceiling was covered with paintings by German artist Christian von Schönfeldt. In 1729, a cupola was built over the choir, painted by Johan Ross. The paintings depict scenes from both the New and the Old Testament. The porc ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Göteborg, Sweden

Kågeröd Church

Kågeröd Church was built in Romanesque style probably in the late 1100s. Vaults and the tower was added probably in the 1400s. The church has been enlarged in 16th and 18th centuries. The interior is decorated with murals dating from the late 1400s. The pulpit was made in 1696 and altar in 1703. There is also a crucifix and font dating from the Middle Ages.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Kågeröd, Sweden

Öjeby Church

The oldest parts of the medieval Öjebyn church date back to the 15th century and the clock-tower is probably the oldest building in Norrbotten. The church was restored in 1753.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Öjebyn, Sweden

Vidbo Church

The original church in Vidbo was built in Romanesque style around 1200. It has been enlarged and restored several times. The triumph crucifix dates from the early 1300s and the current pulpit from 1862.
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Sigtuna, Sweden

Danderyd Church

The sacristy and the northeast side of the Danderyd Church were built around 1400. The current appearance dates mainly from the restoration made in 1600s. The church has a strong relation to Baner noble family, who owned the church lands and the near Djursholm Castle for centuries. There are two grave of Baner family in the church and the pulpit (1628) and altar (1707) are donated by them. Among other inventory there are ...
Founded: c. 1400 | Location: Danderyd, Sweden

Svarteborg Church

The first written record of Svarteborg Church dates back to 1391, but the church is probably built already in the 1100s or 1200s. The current appearance originates from the restoration made in 1708. The wooden tower was erected in 1757. The Baroquie style pulpit and altar were made in the 1600s. the paintings in ceilings were made probably by Christian von Schönfeldt in 1741.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Dingle, Sweden

Fru Alstad Church

A Romanesque Fru Alstad church was built in the 12th century, and later it was rebuilt to a magnificent Gothic style temple. The church was originally a pilgrimage church and below the cemetery are still remains from a spring made for sacrifices. The baptismal font is made of sandstone and descends from the 1100s. The triumph crucifix and mural paintigs date from the 1400s, altar from 1689 and pulpit from 1730s.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Trelleborg, Sweden

Etelhem Church

The oldest part of the Etelhem Church is a tower, built in the beginning of 1200s. The nave and choir were built around 1300 and sacristy added in 1600s. The interior is decorated with mural paintings made in the 1400s. The well-preserved stained glass in choir window dates from the 1300s. The font was made of sandstone in the late 1100s and wooden crucifix was carved in 1300s. The pulpit dates from 1648 and altar from 16 ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Stånga, Sweden

Björke Church

The western part of the Björke Church chancel and nave were built in the 13th century. The chancel was extended to the east during next century and sacristy was added in 1860. The font and cruficix date from the 13th century. The pulpit (1594) is one of the oldest in Gotland.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Romakloster, Sweden

Hangvar Church

Hangvar church dates from the 13th century. The oldest parts are the choir and nave; the tower was built slightly later. The church has a decorated entrance portal, with sculpted capitals and a sculpture of a man"s head above the portal. Internally, the church ceiling is supported by four vaults which rest on a central column. The base of the column is decorated with carved figures. Among the furnishings, the baptism ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hangvar, Sweden

Rute Church

The oldest part of the Rute church is the choir, built c. 1230. The nave was built around ten years later, while the tower and the west portal were the last parts of the church to be built. The church was decorated with frescos inside during the late Middle Ages. These were executed by the artist known as the Master of the Passion of Christ and were rediscovered during a renovation in 1951. The church ceiling is supported ...
Founded: c. 1230 | Location: Rute, 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

Levide Church

Levide Church is a largely Romanesque church of a character unique for the countryside of Gotland. Parts of the choir, notably the area around the portal, is however comparable to the northern portal of Visby Cathedral in Visby, the main town of the island. The oldest parts of the church are the aforementioned choir with its apse, dating from the late 12th century. The nave dates from the early 13th century while the tow ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Levide, Sweden

Vänge Church

The Romanesque church tower is the oldest part of the church. It was built circa 1200. Originally it was attached to a Romanesque church, the nave and choir of which however was replaced with the presently visible Gothic parts at the end of the 13th century. The sacristy is the only non-medieval part of the church; it was built in 1866. The exterior of the church is decorated with Romanesque reliefs, re-used from the earl ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Vänge, Sweden

Gärdslösa Church

The Gärdslösa church is the best preserved medieval church on Öland. The western part of the nave as well as the slightly younger western tower was built during the 12th century and the transept was added around 1240. The main restoration was done in 1845. There is a votive ship of the Swedish Riksnyckeln, which was blasted in a battle between the Danish and Swedish navies in the Kalmar Strait in 1679. On ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Borgholm, Öland, Sweden

Skånela Church

The church of Skånela was built in the 1160’s. It was probably designed by the same German architect who designed also Lund Cathedral. The sacristy and north side chapel were added in the 14th century and the church was again enlarged in the 15th century. Skånela church was damaged by fire in 1642 and 1806. The mural paintings inside the church date from the 1300’s. The wooden sculpture of Madonna ...
Founded: 1160's | Location: Sigtuna, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Wawel Castle

Wawel Hill – a Jurassic limestone rock, a dominant feature in the landscape of Kraków, have provided a safe haven for people who have settled here since the Paleolithic Age. It is supposed that the Slav people started living on Wawel hill as early as the 7th century. Early medieval legends tell stories about a dreadful dragon that lived in a cave on Wawel Hill, about his slayer Krakus, and about the latter’s daughter Wanda, who drowned herself in the Vistula rather than marry a German knight. Towards the end of the first millennium A.D Wawel began to play the role of the centre of political power.In the 9th century it became the principal fortified castrum of the Vislane tribe. The first historical ruler of Poland, Miesco I (c.965-992) of the Piast dynasty as well as his successors: Boleslas the Brave (992-1025) and Miesco II (1025-1034) chose Wawel Hill as one of their residences.

At that time Wawel became one of the main Polish centres of Christianity. The first early Romanesque and Romanesque sacral buildings were raised here, including a stone cathedral that was erected after the bishopric of Kraków was established in the year 1000.

During the reign of Casimir the Restorer (1034-1058) Wawel became a significant political and administrative centre for the Polish State. Casimir’s son, Boleslas the Bold (1058-1079) began the construction of a second Romanesque cathedral, which was finished by Boleslas the Wrymouth (1102-1138). In his last will of 1138, this prince divided Poland into districts, and provided that Kraków was to be the residence of the senior prince. In 1291 the city of Kraków along with Wawel Hill temporarily fell under the Czech rule, and Wenceslas II from the Premysl dynasty was crowned King of Poland in Wawel cathedral.

In 1306 the Duke of Kuyavia Ladislas the Short (1306-1333) entered Wawel and was crowned King of Poland in the Cathedral in 1320. It was the first historically recorded coronation of a Polish ruler on Wawel Hill. Around that time, at the initiative of Ladislas the Short, the construction of the third Gothic cathedral began, the castle was expanded and the old wooden and earthen fortifications were replaced by brick ones. The tomb of Ladislas the Short in the cathedral started a royal necropolis of Polish kings in Krakow.The last descendant of the Piast dynasty, Casimir the Great (1333-1370) brought Wawel to a state of unprecedented splendour. In 1364 the expanded gothic castle witnessed the marriage of Casimir’s granddaughter Elizabeth to Charles IV accompanied by a famous convention of kings and princes, subsequently entertained by a rich burgher Wierzynek. The accession to the throne in 1385 of Jadwiga from the Hungarian dynasty of Andegavens, and her marriage to a Lithuanian prince Ladislas Jagiello (1386-1434) started another era of prosperity for Wawel. The royal court employed local and western European artists and also Rus painters. During the reign of Casimir Jagiellon (1447-1492) the silhouette of the hill was enriched by three high brick towers: the Thieves’ Tower, the Sandomierz Tower and the Senatorial Tower. The first humanists in Poland and tutors to the king’s sons: historian Jan Długosz and an Italian by the name Filippo Buonacorsi (also known as Callimachus) worked there at that time.

The Italian Renaissance arrived at Wawel in the early 16th century. King Alexander (1501-1506) and his brother Sigismund I the Old (1506-1548) commissioned the construction of a new palace in place of the Gothic residence, with an impressive large courtyard with arcaded galleries which was completed about 1540. Sigismund’s patronage also left an indelible impression in the cathedral, where a family chapel was erected, known today as Sigismund’s Chapel - the work of Bartolomeo of Berrecci Florence, and through various foundations, one of which was that of a large bell, called the Sigismund to commemorate the king. Close artistic and cultural relations with Italy were strengthened in 1518 by the king’s marriage to Bona Sforza. Alongside Italian artists, German architects, wood workers, painters and metal smiths worked for the king. The last descendant of the Jagiellonian dynasty, Sigismund II Augustus (1548-1572), enriched the castle’s interiors with a magnificent collection of tapestries woven in Brussels. In the “Golden Age” of Polish culture Wawel became one of the main centres of humanism in Europe.

The reign of Sigismund III Waza (1587-1632) also made a strong impression on the history of Wawel. After a fire in the castle in 1595 the king rebuilt the burned wing of the building in the early Baroque style. The relocation of the royal court to Warsaw was the cause of a slow but nevertheless steady deterioration in the castle’s condition. The monarchs visited Kraków only occasionally. Restoration of the castle was undertaken during the reign of John III Sobieski, the Wettins and Stanislas Augustus to counteract neglect.

After Poland had lost its independence in 1795, the troops of partitioning nations, Russia, Prussia and Austria, subsequently occupied Wawel which finally passed into the hands of the Austrians. The new owners converted the castle and some of the secular buildings into a military hospital, and demolished some others, including churches. After the period of the Free City of Kraków (1815-1846) Wawel was once more annexed by Austria and turned into a citadel dominating the city. By the resolution passed by the Seym of Galicia in 1880, the castle was presented as a residence to the Emperor of Austria Franz Josef I. The Austrian troops left the hill between 1905-1911. At the turn of the 20th century a thorough restoration of the cathedral was conducted, and shortly afterwards a process of restoration of the royal castle began which lasted several decades.

When Poland regained its independence in 1918, the castle served as an official residence of the Head of State, and as a museum of historic interiors. During the Nazi occupation the castle was the residence of the German governor general, Hans Frank. Polish people managed to remove the most valuable objects, including the tapestries and the “Szczerbiec” coronation sword to Canada, from where they returned as late as 1959-1961. At present, the main curators of Wawel are Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collection and the Metropolitan Basilica Board on Wawel Hill.