Medieval churches in Sweden

Odarslöv Church

Odarslöv Church dates from the 1100s and is built in the Romanesque style. It was restored according the plan of C. G. Brunius in the 19th century. The font dates from the original church and is made by so-called “Mårten stone master”. The cuppa was made in Germany in the 1500s. The altarpiece was painted by Gunnar John in 1937.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Lund, Sweden

Övraby Church Ruins

Övraby stone church was built around the year 1100 to the site of older church. There was also a Dominican monastery nearby in or around 1260. Halmstad moved in the 1320s to its present location and the old settlement came to be known as Övraby. The Swedish army’s ravages in the 1560s during the Northern Seven Years" War meant the end of “the upper village”. The church was burned to the gr ...
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Halmstad, Sweden

Lunda Church

There has been one or more earlier churches on the same site of current Lunda church. One evidence of this is a font, dating from the 1200s. The current church was built in the early 1400s. The pulpit is designed by C. W. Palmroth and donated to Lunda church in 1806.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Sigtuna, Sweden

Odensala Church

The church of Odensala was built in the late 1100s. The sacristy and tower were added later. The brick-made portal dates from the late 1200s. The arches were added in 1300s. Odensala church is famous for its colorful and expressive lime paintings from the 1500"s by Albertus Pictor or his workshop. The altarpiece was made in 1514, but is today in museum. The pulpit is a gift from Count Karl Gyllenstierna (1714).
Founded: 12th century | Location: Sigtuna, Sweden

Selånger Church

The old Selånger Church was built around 1200, but today it is in ruins. There is a runestone called Selångerstenen from the Viking Age outside the ruins. The current church was completed in 1780-1781. The limestone-made font was moved from the old church (c. 1200). The pulpit dates from 1790.
Founded: 1780-1781 | Location: Sundsvall, Sweden

Rya Church Ruins

The first Rya church was completed in the late 1100s. It might by built by monks from the Herrevad Abbey. Today impressive ruins of this church remain. The new brick-church was inaugurated in 1875. The original font (1100s) has been brought from the old church.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Örkelljunga, Sweden

Orsa Church

The first stone church in Orsa was built during the 13th century and maybe it replaced an old stave church. Around 1300 the church was built out in east direction and then maybe the sacristy came. In the middle of the 14th century the church was beamed out to the present beam. In the end of the 15th century it was built out to the present size, except the choir. In 1607 they planned to build the bell tower at the western ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Orsa, Sweden

Ytterlännäs Old Church

The Old Church of Ytterlännäs dates from the early 13th century, retaining the original walls and the Romanesque outer door with its iron ornament around the keyhole, and a lion"s head from c. 800 from the area of Byzantine cultural influence around Constantinople. In the 15th century a vestry and a "weapon-house" (porch) were added, the choir was extended to make it as wide as the rest of the ch ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Kramfors, Sweden

Håby Church

Håby church originates from the 12th century and it had probably only a square nave. Later it was enlarged and the tower was added in 1869. The exterior appearance dates mainly from the 18th century. The wooden font was made in 1647, pulpit in 1650 and altar 1939.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Munkedal, Sweden

Stenkyrka Church

According the Gutasaga, a man called Lickajr the Wise built one of the first churches on Gotland in Stenkyrka. If true, this first church was almost certainly wooden. The name Stenkyrka (literally in Swedish stone church) implies that also the stone church is very early, from a time when buildings made of stone (rather than wood) was still a phenomenon unusual enough to give name to a place. This first, Romanesque church ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Stenkyrka, Sweden

Södra Ving Church

The oldest parts of Södra Ving date from the 12th century. It is known of its remarkable stone sculptures and paintings from three different periods of the Middle Ages. The Gothic mural paintings in middle nave date from the 1400s. There are also two runestones in the churchyard.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Hökerum, Sweden

Simlinge Church

Simlinge Church was built around the year 1200. The bell tower was erected in 1852. The altarpiece depicts the Last supper, and the pulpit dates from year 1623.
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Trelleborg, Sweden

Trosa Country Church

The oldest parts of Trosa Country Church (lands kyrka) were built in the 1200s. The sacristy was added later in the 1300s, vaults and tower in the 1400s. The strong tower may have had a defensive purpose. In 1773 church was badly damaged by fire and restored. The altarpiece is painted in Netherlands in the mid-1500s. The pulpit was made in Stockholm in 1706. The crucifix dates from the end of 1200s and wooden sculpture of ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Vagnhärad, Sweden

Elinghem Church Ruins

Elinghem church was built in the 13th century and probably abandoned in the early 17th century. The altar with piscina and baptismal font still remain.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hangvar, Sweden

Gerum Church

The oldest parts of Gerum Church are the choir and apse, dating from circa 1200 and Romanesque in style. The presently visible, Gothic nave dates from a later time of the 13th century and probably replaced an earlier, Romanesque nave. The tower, which was never finished, was built circa 1300. The only non-medieval part of the church is the sacristy, built in 1835. Gerum Church is constructed of limestone. The exterior is ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Gerum, Sweden

Guldrupe Church

The oldest parts of Guldrupe church is the nave, dating from the late 12th century. Oak planks decorated with dragons have however been found on the site, and indicate that there may have existed an earlier, wooden church on the spot. The tower dates from the early 13th century, and from the end of the same century dates the un-proportionally large choir and sacristy. The choir replaced an earlier, smaller choir, but plan ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Guldrupe, Sweden

Hulterstad Church

The construction of defensive tower, the oldest part of Hulterstad Church, was completed around the year 1200. There are also some remains of older building from the early 1100’s below the ground. In 1803 the church was reconstructed to the present, single-nave and rectangular shape. The interior originates from several centuries. Oldest artefacts are the baptismal font and the painted consecration cross from Middl ...
Founded: ca. 1200 | Location: Mörbylånga, Sweden

Ås Church

The medieval stone church of Ås date back to the 12th century. It is the only church in Öland where the tower is located in the east side. The church was enlarged in 1770 and the interior is mainly from the 18th-19th centuries. The pulpit is very unusual; this nineteenth century work is directly above the altar, an arrangement rarely seen in Swedish churches. The church is long established as a landmark for sea ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Mörbylånga, Öland, Sweden

Björklinge Church

The church of Björklinge was built originally in the early 14th century. It was enlarged in the 15th century and the present appearance originates mainly from the restoration made in 1655. The church contains a triptych and a sandstone font made before the Reformation. There are five stained glass windows made in 1658. The current altarpiece was carved in 1714. The church has also a rare 18th century organ, which h ...
Founded: 14th century, restored 1658 | Location: Uppsala, Sweden

Danmark Church

The first written record of church in Danmark locality date back to the year 1291. Close to the church are several stones with a Christian text and cross inscribed. The oldest parts of the present red-brick church are from the 1300s. In the late 1400s the church was enlarged to the appearance it has today. The church has been modified both internally and externally several times, among other things after the fires in 1699 ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Uppsala, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte

The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is a baroque French château built between 1658-1661 for Nicolas Fouquet. It was made for Marquis de Belle Île, Viscount of Melun and Vaux, the superintendent of finances of Louis XIV, the château was an influential work of architecture in mid-17th century Europe. At Vaux-le-Vicomte, the architect Louis Le Vau, the landscape architect André le Nôtre, and the painter-decorator Charles Le Brun worked together on a large-scale project for the first time. Their collaboration marked the beginning of the 'Louis XIV style' combining architecture, interior design and landscape design. The garden's pronounced visual axis is an example of this style.

To secure the necessary grounds for the elaborate plans for Vaux-le-Vicomte’s garden and castle, Fouquet purchased and demolished three villages. The displaced villagers were then employed in the upkeep and maintenance of the gardens. It was said to have employed eighteen thousand workers and cost as much as 16 million livres. The château and its patron became for a short time a focus for fine feasts, literature and arts. The poet La Fontaine and the playwright Molière were among the artists close to Fouquet. At the inauguration of Vaux-le-Vicomte, a Molière play was performed, along with a dinner event organized by François Vatel, and an impressive firework show.

After Fouquet was arrested and imprisoned for life, and his wife exiled, Vaux-le-Vicomte was placed under sequestration. The king seized, confiscated or purchased 120 tapestries, the statues, and all the orange trees from Vaux-le-Vicomte. He then sent the team of artists (Le Vau, Le Nôtre and Le Brun) to design what would be a much larger project than Vaux-le-Vicomte, the palace and gardens of Versailles.

The Marshal Villars became the new owner without first seeing the chateau. In 1764, the Marshal's son sold the estate to the Duke of Praslin, whose descendants would maintain the property for over a century. It is sometimes mistakenly reported that the château was the scene of a murder in 1847, when duke Charles de Choiseul-Praslin, killed his wife in her bedroom, but this did not happen at Vaux-le-Vicomte but at the Paris residence of the Duke.

In 1875, after thirty years of neglect, the estate was sold to Alfred Sommier in a public auction. The château was empty, some of the outbuildings had fallen into ruin, and the famous gardens were totally overgrown. The huge task of restoration and refurbishment began under the direction of the architect Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur, assisted by the landscape architect Elie Lainé. When Sommier died in 1908, the château and the gardens had recovered their original appearance. His son, Edme Sommier, and his daughter-in-law completed the task. Today, his descendants continue to preserve the château, which remains privately owned by Patrice and Cristina de Vogüé, the Count and Countess de Vogüé. It is now administered by their three sons Alexandre, Jean-Charles and Ascanio de Vogüé. Recognized by the state as a monument historique, it is open to the public regularly.

Architecture

The chateau is situated near the northern end of a 1.5-km long north-south axis with the entrance front facing north. Its elevations are perfectly symmetrical to either side of this axis. Somewhat surprisingly the interior plan is also nearly completely symmetrical with few differences between the eastern and western halves. The two rooms in the center, the entrance vestibule to the north and the oval salon to the south, were originally an open-air loggia, dividing the chateau into two distinct sections. The interior decoration of these two rooms was therefore more typical of an outdoor setting. Three sets of three arches, those on the entrance front, three more between the vestibule and the salon, and the three leading from the salon to the garden are all aligned and permitted the arriving visitor to see through to the central axis of the garden even before entering the chateau. The exterior arches could be closed with iron gates, and only later were they filled in with glass doors and the interior arches with mirrored doors. Since the loggia divided the building into two halves, there are two symmetrical staircases on either side of it, rather than a single staircase. The rooms in the eastern half of the house were intended for the use of the king, those in the western were for Fouquet. The provision of a suite of rooms for the king was normal practice in aristocratic houses of the time, since the king travelled frequently.

Another surprising feature of the plan is the thickness of the main body of the building (corps de logis), which consists of two rows of rooms running east and west. Traditionally the middle of the corps de logis of French chateaux consisted of a single row of rooms. Double-thick corps de logis had already been used in hôtels particuliers in Paris, including Le Vau's Hôtel Tambonneau, but Vaux was the first chateau to incorporate this change. Even more unusual, the main rooms are all on the ground floor rather than the first floor (the traditional piano nobile). This accounts for the lack of a grand staircase or a gallery, standard elements of most contemporary chateaux. Also noteworthy are corridors in the basement and on the first floor which run the length of house providing privacy to the rooms they access. Up to the middle of the 17th century, corridors were essentially unknown. Another feature of the plan, the four pavilions, one at each corner of the building, is more conventional.

Vaux-le-Vicomte was originally planned to be constructed in brick and stone, but after the mid-century, as the middle classes began to imitate this style, aristocratic circles began using stone exclusively. Rather late in the design process, Fouquet and Le Vau switched to stone, a decision that may have been influenced by the use of stone at François Mansart's Château de Maisons. The service buildings flanking the large avant-cour to the north of the house remained in brick and stone, and other structures preceding them were in rubble-stone and plaster, a social ranking of building materials that would be common in France for a considerable length of time thereafter.

The main chateau is constructed entirely on a moated platform, reached via two bridges, both aligned with the central axis and placed on the north and south sides. The moat is a picturesque holdover from medieval fortified residences, and is again a feature that Le Vau may have borrowed from Maisons. The moat at Vaux may also have been inspired by the previous chateau on the site, which Le Vau's work replaced.

Gardens

The château rises on an elevated platform in the middle of the woods and marks the border between unequal spaces, each treated in a different way. This effect is more distinctive today, as the woodlands are mature, than it was in the seventeenth century when the site had been farmland, and the plantations were new.

Le Nôtre's garden was the dominant structure of the great complex, stretching nearly a mile and a half (3 km), with a balanced composition of water basins and canals contained in stone curbs, fountains, gravel walks, and patterned parterres that remains more coherent than the vast display Le Nôtre was to create at Versailles.

Le Nôtre created a magnificent scene to be viewed from the house, using the laws of perspective. Le Notre used the natural terrain to his advantage. He placed the canal at the lowest part of the complex, thus hiding it from the main perspectival point of view. Past the canal, the garden ascends a large open lawn and ends with the Hercules column added in the 19th century. Shrubberies provided a picture frame to the garden that also served as a stage for royal fêtes.

From the top of the grand staircase, this gives the impression that the entire garden is revealed in one single glance. Initially, the view consists of symmetrical rows of shrubbery, avenues, fountains, statues, flowers and other pieces developed to imitate nature – these elements exemplify the Baroque desire to mold nature to fit its wishes, thus using nature to imitate nature. The centerpiece is a large reflecting pool flanked by grottos holding statues in their many niches. The grand sloping lawn is not visible until one begins to explore the garden, when the viewer is made aware of the optical elements involved and discovers that the garden is much larger than it looks.