Medieval churches in Sweden

Heda Church

The oldest parts of Heda Church were built in the early 1100s. It was renovated to the Cistercian style in the late 13th century. The church was enlarged between 1855-1858. The most interesting detail in Heda church is the fine collection of medieval wooden sculptures. The most famous of these is a remarkably well preserved wooden sculpture of the Virgin Mary as Queen of Heaven, which is more than eight hundred years old ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ödeshög, Sweden

Häverö Church

Häverö Church was built around the year 1300. The mural paintings in vaults date from 1470. The belfry, built in the style of Norwegian Stave churches, date from the 16th century and is one the oldest in Sweden. The magnificent altar was made in Antwerpen in the early 16th century.
Founded: ca. 1300 | Location: Norrtälje, Sweden

Martebo Church

The medieval church of Marterbo is well-known of its beautifully carved portals. The tower originates from the previous, Romanesque style church. The middle nave and sacristy were built in the 14th century and restored in the 19th century. The pulpit, made in the mid-1500s, is one of the oldest in Gotland. The babtismal font date from the 13th century, altar and epitaph from the late 17th century.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Tingstäde, Sweden

Valleberga Church

Valleberga Church is the only known fortified round church in Scania. It was built of limestone in the middle of the 12th century. A reason for the building of the round church was that the master mason of the church, Carl Stenmester, also built churches on Bornholm, where round churches were common. The font was cut by the master of Tryde and shows one of the legends about Saint Peter and Paul of Tarsus. In 1791, the ro ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Löderup, Sweden

Bonderup Church

Bonderup Church was built in Romanesque style in the 12th century. The vaulting was added in the 15th century and the tower in 1850. The tower was damaged by lightning in 1916 and rebuilt. The altarpiece dates from the 1600s.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Lund, Sweden

Husby Church

Husby Church is one of the oldest churches in the Dalarna region. Beautifully situated on the banks of the Dalälven river, this building can trace its origins back to the early 14th century. It contains a fine collection of medieval inventory that is bound to fascinate the visitor. It also contains one of the most interesting organs in the country, the Nils Söderström organ.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Dala-husby, Sweden

Bälinge Church

Bälinge Church dates back to the end of 1100s. In the mid-1300s Bo Jonsson (Grip) built near Sundboholm castle and probably the church choir was also reconstructed then as well as the new sacristy. The Gyllenstierna family chapel was added in 1656. The belfry dates from 1762. The inner walls are decorated with several medieval consecration crosses and murals painted by master Peder between 1621-1622. The altar and p ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Tystberga, Sweden

Roslags-Bro Church

Roslags-Bro church was built of granite in the 13th century. The tower was added in the 1400s and restored in 1700s. The church is famous due its fine sculptures. The wooden sculpture of Eric IX of Sweden, made in France in 1200s, has been model to Stockholm city coat of arms. The crucifix made in Gotland and font date also from the 13th century. The altar and other saint sculptures date from the 15th century.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Norrtälje, Sweden

Fullösa Church

Fullösa Church was built in the 1100s. The sacristy and porch were added later in the Middle Ages and windows were enlarged in 1600-1700s. The most interesting sight in the church are mural paintings made in Baroque style in 1630s. The artist was Gullick Gullicksson, who also painted murals to near churches and Läckö castle. The altar dates from 1600s. There are two cuppas dating between 1100 and 1250. The ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Hällekis, Sweden

Våmb Church

Våmb Church was built during the first half of 12th century except the tower, which was added some decades later. According to legend, the church is built by St. Helena of Skövde at her farm in Våmb. It was also largely built because of generous donations from her. The major restoration was made in the late 1800s and between 1944-1945. The interior is well-preserved and consists of several medieval sculp ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Skövde, 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

Munsö Church

Munsö Church is one of a few medieval round churches in Sweden. Traces of permanent habitations dating from the Bronze or Iron Age have been found in the area, and several of the larger farmsteads in the area are traceable back to the Iron Age. Munsö Church was possibly built for one such farm, called Bona. The church dates from the 12th century. The exact date is unknown, but given the peculiarity that the chu ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ekerö, Sweden

Torpa Church

Torpa church is one of the churches in Central Sweden that researches have dated as far back as the end of the 12th century. What makes this church remarkable is that it is one of the few churches that appears to have been signed by its founder. On the original reliefs on the southern doorway there is runic writing that reads Odulf gjorde kyrkan (Odulf built the church). The current chapel was originally a nave in the Rom ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Kungsör, 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

Bollnäs Church

Bollnäs church was originally built in the 14th and 15th centuries. One opening is known to have taken place November 3, 1468, probably concerning the church tower. Later alterations include the addition of the north and south transepts, built in 1753-1755. The church holds a larger collection of wooden medieval sculptures than any other parish church in the Nordic countries. Three of the altarpieces are major works ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Bollnäs, Sweden

Färentuna Church

Färentuna Church was built around the year 1175. The nave was enlarged in the 15th century when the church was under the protection of Karl Knutsson Bonde. The enlargement was made for his daughter’s weddings because the church was too small for all people. The latest notable reconstruction was made in 1732, when the medieval tower was replaced by the present wooden cap. The pulpit of Färentuna church was ...
Founded: 1175 | Location: Ekerö, Sweden

Sånga Church

The Sånga church has been mentioned first time in 1308, when madame Ingeborg donated her land property to the church. The church was however built already in the late 1100s and enlarged in the 14th century. The church has interesting mural paintings made around 1470. There are for example humorous paintings displaying events of Holy Bible. Also the pulpit, made in 1635, is richly decorated.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ekerö, Sweden

Lye Church

The main nave of Lye Church originate from the 12th century. The tower has dated to the year 1240 and the chancel was built in the early 1300s. The interesting detail is a stone-made relic chect made in the 1100s. There are also several mural paintings and artefacts made during the Middle Ages. The pulpit was added in 1705.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Lye, Sweden

Ventlinge Church

Ventlinge Church, dedicated to St. Lawrence, was built during the first half of the 1100's. It began as a towerless vestibule church of Romanesque style. Around the year 1200, a defensive tower entirely on its own grounds was added. Above the staircase entrance in the porch is a throw shaft straight up through the wall. Church defenders could also stand on the tower’s second floor and throw stones at unwelcome visit ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Degerhamn, Sweden

Levene Church

Leven Church was built in the 11th century as a manor chapel for the near Levene manor. It was enlarged in the 1600s by J. H. Reuter. The font and small bell date from the original church. Levene church has royal connections. Three sisters of King Carl Gustav were confirmed at this church. Governor Johan Hindrikson Reyter greatly assisted the expansion of the church in the 17th century and had a family crypt built. The c ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Stora Levene, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.