Medieval churches in Sweden

Västerhejde Church

The church was built in Romanesque style during the 13th century, but underwent some changes during the 19th century. The southern portal was then removed, and the spire of the tower changed from its original, pointed design to its presently visible crow-stepped design, traditionally not found on churches of Gotland. The altarpiece, pulpit and pews date from the 17th century. An oil painting by Fredrik Westin that hangs i ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Västerhejde, Sweden

Roma Church

The current Roma church was preceded by a considerably smaller, Romanesque church. Some fragments from this church have been re-used and incorporated in the façade of the later church. The still extant sacristy is also a remnant of this earlier church. The earlier church was torn down and successively replaced with Gothic style building between 1215 and 1255. Dendrochronological examinations have shown that the latest a ...
Founded: 1215-1255 | Location: Romakloster, Sweden

Vallstena Church

The western part of the nave and the church tower are the oldest parts of the asymmetrical Vallstena church. They date from the early 13th century. A new chancel arch was built at the middle of the same century, and around circa 1300 the new choir was built. Reconstruction of the nave also started around this time; the original plan seems to have been to replace the entire nave with a new, larger nave but for some reason ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Vallstena, Sweden

Bergshammar Church

The church in Bergshammar was built in the 15th century and replaced an older wooden church. The sacristy dates from 1680. Old murals were discovered in 1967. The medieval baptismal font has a brass plate from 1950. The wooden altar was donated to the church in 1950 and has a crucifix from the 19th century. The pulpit was made in 1671 by Lars Olsson, a master craftsman from Stockholm.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Nyköping, Sweden

Träkumla Church

Träkumla stone church was preceded by a wooden church on the same site. The oldest part of the now visible church at Träkumla is the rectangular choir, which was built at the middle of the 13th century. The nave was added slightly later. The church was intended to have a tower; thick walls at the western end of the nave indicate that preparations were made for the erection of a tower, but it was never executed. The pres ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Träkumla, Sweden

Södra Sandby Church

The oldest parts of Södra Sandby Church date from the late 1100s. The greystone tower was added later in the Middle Ages. It was enlarged in 1797. The baptismal font, made of sandstone, have a cuppa dating from the 12th century. The triumph crucifix was carved in the late Middle Ages. The pulpit was made in 1847.
Founded: Late 12th century | Location: Södra Sandby, Sweden

Källunge Church

Källunge church (Källunge kyrka) is a church in the island-bishopric of Visby on Gotland. The church is richly decorated with reliefs and frescoes. The frescoes are important evidence of the strong Byzantine influence on Swedish art of the 12th and 13th centuries. An early depiction of a nyckelharpa is found in a relief dating from circa 1350 on one of the gates of the church. The church gives its name to the K ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Visby, Sweden

Vårfrukyrkan

Vårfrukyrkan (Our Lady’s Church) was built in the 12th century in the same style as Sigtuna and Old Uppsala churches. The star vaulting and enlargement were completed in the 15th century. The wooden tower was added in 1839. There are remains medieval mural paintings as well as newer painted by C. W. Petterson in 1904.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Enköping, Sweden

Västra Tommarp Church

Västra Tommarp Church was built around year 1200 of flintstone. In the 17th century the gables of the chancel and nave was renovated and got a style similar to baroque. The baptismal font is made of sandstone and has a font basin in tin. Both of them and the calix originate from the 1600s. In year 1649 the pulpit was created.
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Trelleborg, 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

Follingbo Church

The oldest parts of Follingbo Church are the nave and tower. They date from circa 1200 and together form an unusually accomplished example of Romanesque architecture on Gotland. Although lacking in ornamental sculpture, the tower and nave are well-proportioned and unusually professionally executed. The choir is later (late 13th century) and already Gothic in style, and also considered unusual for its kind. The choir repla ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Follingbo, Sweden

St. Peter's Church Ruins

St. Peter's Church have been probably built in two phases during the 12th century.The eastern part with chancel, transept and central tower were erected first during the late 1100's, while the nave and the present west tower were added later. According the tradition the church was used as a bishop’s cathedral until 1130 when the bishop's seat was moved to Gamla Uppsala. The another legend believes the church has be ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Sigtuna, Sweden

Anderslöv Church

The Romanesque Anderslöv Church was built around 1100 and the first tower was added a century later. The current tower dates from the 1500s. The church was enlarged in 1767 and 1841. The major restoration had to be done in 1871 after the spire was destroyed by fire. The interior is decorated with murals made by so-called Snårestad school c. 1350. The pulpi has been carved by Jacob Kremberg in 1630.
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Anderslöv, Sweden

Barlingbo Church

The current Barlingbo Church was erected between 1225-1250 but the foundation of an older church building has been found from the nave floor. The large rosette window in west wall is an unique detail. The interior is decorated with frescoes made in the 13th and 14th century. The font from the 1100s is also beautifully carved. The pulpit dates back to 1673 and sandstone-made altar screen to 1683.
Founded: 1225-1250 | Location: Visby, Sweden

Ravlunda Church

Ravlunda church was built around 1200. It is typical Scanian in its design with the east apse, cows, nave and tower. Brick arches and vaults were filled with mural paintings in the 1400s, maybe by the Vittskövle Master. The church porch and tower were probably built also in the 1400s. The expansion to the north is considered to come from the 1600s. The altar dates from 1592 and the pulpit from 1609.
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Kivik, Sweden

Bollerup Church

Bollerup Church was built originally in the 1100s and arches were added in the 15th century. The church was restored and enlarged in the 1860s. Bollerup is one of the four churches in Scania with round tower. The baptismal font date from the 12th century, altarpiece and pulpit from the 17th century. Frescoes in the nave walls have been dated to the year 1476.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Tomelilla, Sweden

Tidersrum Church

Tidersrum old church is one of the Sweden"s oldest and oddest wooden churches. It was built originally around the year 1260 of timber with very sharp dimensions and seamlessly. The red colored timberbuilding is covered with patterns of global wood chips. The vestry is built of stone and white limestone. Tidersrum church has a sculpture of St. Olav, once a great figure of popular devotion throughout Scandinavia, whic ...
Founded: c. 1260 | Location: Tidersrum, Sweden

St. Olof's Church Ruins

St. Olof's Church was originally built around the year 1100 and it consisted of a main tower, chancel and nave. It was later extended, but the construction was probably interrupted when archbishop’s seat was moved to Gamla Uppsala in the 12th century. St. Olof's church has been influenced by the Nidaros Cathedral in Norway, while the small tapering windows have an Anglo-Saxon style. The church is dedicated to the N ...
Founded: ca.1100 | Location: Sigtuna, Sweden

Vittskövle Church

Vittskövle Church was originally built during the 12th or 13th century. In the 15th century a chapel was built to the north side. The chapel was dedicated to Saint Anne. The tower was built in the 16th century. In the 17th century a grave chapel was built for the Barnekow family. The vaults were built in the 15th century with mural paintings from the 1480s, showing stories from Genesis. These were later painted over ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Vittskövle, Sweden

Teda Church

Teda Church was originally built around the year 1200 and enlarged strongly about 100 years later. The star-shape vaulting was made in the 1500s. The mural paintings were made in two phases in the early 1600s. The chapel was addded in 1680s for Arvid Ivarsson Natt och Dag. The oldest item in the church is a font made in the Middle Ages. There is a date 1644 carved to the pulpit. The organs and benches date from the 18th ...
Founded: ca. 1200 | Location: Enköping, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

São Jorge Castle

São Jorge Castle is a Moorish castle occupying a commanding hilltop overlooking the historic centre of the Portuguese city of Lisbon and Tagus River. The strongly fortified citadel dates from medieval period of Portuguese history, and is one of the main tourist sites of Lisbon.

Although the first fortifications on this hilltop date from the 2nd century BC, archaeological excavations have identified a human presence in the Tagus valley as far back as the 6th century BC. The first fortification was, presumably, erected in 48 BC, when Lisbon was classified as a Roman municipality.

The hill was first used by indigenous Celtic tribes, then by Phoenicians, Greeks, and Carthaginians as a defensible outpost that was later expropriated by Roman, Suebic, Visigothic, and Moorish peoples. During the 10th century, the fortifications were rebuilt by Muslim Berber forces, these included the walls or Cerca Moura ("Moorish Encirclement").

Kingdom

In the context of the Christian Reconquista, the castle and the city of Lisbon were freed from Moorish rule in 1147 by Afonso Henriques and northern European knights in the Siege of Lisbon during the Second Crusade; this victory was the only notable success of that failed crusade. According to an oft-repeated legend, the knight Martim Moniz, noticing that one of the doors to the castle was open, prevented the Moors from closing it by throwing his own body into the breach, thus allowing Christian soldiers to enter at the cost of his own life. With the taking of the castle Christian forces were able to maintain the defense of Lisbon until the end of the 12th century.

When Lisbon became the capital of the kingdom in 1255, the castle served as the alcáçova, a fortified residence for Afonso III, in his role as governor. It was extensively renovated around 1300 by King Denis I, transforming the Moorish alcáçova into the Royal Palace of the Alcáçova. Between 1373 and 1375, King Ferdinand I ordered the building of the Cerca Nova or Cerca Fernandina, the walled compound that enclosed the entirety of the castle. The master builders João Fernandes and Vasco Brás were responsible for its construction. This wall, which partially replaced the old Moorish walls, was designed to encircle previously unprotected parts of the city. Completed in two years, it had 77 towers and a perimeter of 5,400 metres.

The castle and the city resisted the forces of Castile several times during the 14th century (notably in 1373 and in 1383–1384). It was during this period (the late 14th century) that the castle was dedicated to Saint George by King John I, who had married the English princess Philippa of Lancaster. Saint George, the warrior-saint, was normally represented slaying a dragon, and very was popular in both countries.

From this point onward many of the kingdom's records were housed in the Torre de Ulisses, also known as the Torre Albarrã, until the reign of Manuel I. The Portuguese National Archive is still referred to as the Torre do Tombo. Between 1448 and 1451, the master builder was paid several stipends for his work on the palace. These public works continued until 1452, with additional payments being made for labor and materials to convert the building from a fortified castle to a royal residence.

Around the early 16th century, following the construction of the Ribeira Palace beside the Tagus river, the Palace of Alcáçova began to lose its importance. An earthquake occurring in 1531 further damaged the old castle, contributing further to its decay and neglect. In 1569, King Sebastian ordered the rebuilding of the royal apartments in the castle, intending to use it as his official residence. As part of the rebuilding, in 1577 Filippo Terzi demolished one of the towers near the principal facade of the Church of Loreto. However, many of the works were never completed after the young king's apparent death during the Battle of Alcácer Quibir. The following Portuguese dynastic crisis opened the way for sixty years of Spanish rule and the castle was converted into military barracks and a prison. On 30 December 1642, Teodósio de Frias the Younger was appointed master builder to continue the works begun by his father, Luís de Frias, and his grandfather, Teodósio de Frias. This was part of a greater plan by the Spanish forces to recommission the fortification.

However, after Portugal regained its independence following the Portuguese Restoration War, the works were taken over by the Portuguese government. On 6 November 1648, Nicolau de Langres was called upon to take over the design, execution and construction of a new fortification that would surround the Castle of São Jorge and the city walls of Lisbon. In 1650 the military architect Mateus do Couto was named master builder of the project and reconstruction took on a new formality: although the military engineer João Gillot built new walls in 1652, construction again followed Couto's plans between 1657 and 1733. In 1673, the Soldiers' Hospital, dedicated to São João de Deus, was installed on the grounds beside the Rua do Recolhimento. At the end of the 17th century the Recolhimento do Castelo was constructed along the southeast angle of the courtyard, and in 1733, new projects were initiated by master Custódio Vieira.

The 1755 Lisbon earthquake severely damaged the castle and contributed to its continuing decay: apart from the walls of the old castle, the soldier's hospital and the Recolhimento were left in ruins. The necessity of maintaining a supporting military force within the capital city required expansion of the site's role of garrison and presidio. From 1780 to 1807, the charitable institution Casa Pia, dedicated to the education of poor children, was established in the citadel, while soldiers continued to be garrisoned on site. Inspired by the events of the earthquake and the following tsunami, the first geodetic observatory in Portugal was constructed in 1788 at the top of one of the towers of the castle, later referred to as the Torre do Observatório.

Republic

As part of the commemorative celebrations marking the foundation of nationhood and restoration of independence, the government of António de Oliveira Salazar initiated extensive renovations at the site. Most of the incongruous structures added to the castle compound in previous centuries were demolished and there was a partial restoration of the Recolhimento. In addition, on 25 October 1947, a monument dedicated to Afonso Henriques, presented by the city of Porto, of a replica created by Soares dos Reis (in 1887) was installed on the grounds.