Medieval churches in 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

Balkåkra Church Ruins

Balkåkra stone church was built around 1200. It was abandoned in 1867 when Marsvinholm church was completed. The restoration was done in the 20th century. Today it is occasionally used for worship services.
Founded: ca. 1200 | Location: Ystad, Sweden

Löderup Church

The oldest parts of Löderup Church date from the 12th century. The defensive tower and vaulting were probably added in the 15th century. The major restoration was done in 1860s. The oldest artefact in the church is the font which was made around 1160. The pulpit date from 1604.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ystad, Sweden

Vendel Church

The sacristy of Vendel Church was made of brick probably in the late 1200s and it is the oldest still existing part of the church. The current church building was completed around the year 1300. Arches were added in the 1450s and the church was enlarged in the 18th century. Vende church is well-known of its mural paintings, dating back to the year 1451. They were painted by Johannes Ivan and donated by Agneta Krummedik f ...
Founded: late 1200s | Location: Örbyhus, Sweden

Älvkarleby Church

The nave of Älvkarleby Church was built between 1478-1490. It was enlarged in 1690-1702 and the post-medieval sacristy was also replaced with a new one. The spire was removed in 1829. The altar screen, from 1490, features an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The church also has several extremely well preserved medieval frescoes, including some of angels, which are well worth seeing.
Founded: 1478-1490 | Location: Älvkarleby, Sweden

Flen Church

The oldest parts of Flen Church date from the 13th century. The choir was added in the 17th century, probably in 1664 and the new sacristy in 1746. Baptismal font is the oldest item in Flen church, dating from the 12th century. There are also few other medieval artefacts, like crucifix from the 14th century. The pulpit was donated by Brita Ribbing-Rosenhane in 1664 and it was originally painted in black and white. The pr ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Flen, Sweden

Håstad Church

Håstad Church was built in the 1200s in Gothic style. The tower was added later in the Middle Ages. It remained untouched until 1861, when it was restored by the design of C. G. Brunius. The font and wooden sculptures date from the 16th century. The triptych is also medieval. The altarpiece was painted by Justus Lundsgård on 1930.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Lund, Sweden

Rinkaby Church

The oldest parts of Rinkaby church were completed probably in the late 1100s. It was enlarged to the west and the sacristy was added sometimes in the 1200s or early 1300s. The vaulting was added in the late 1400s and the chapel in 1620. The major restoration was made 1779-1780 and in 1839 the current tower replaced the medieval one.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Örebro, Sweden

Hossmo Church

The first church built in Hossmo was most likely a wooden one. Coffins found show that there was probably a church here already in the 11th century. The construction of that church has been linked to the royal court or a powerful local family. Hossmo is considered to have been the centre of a region in the late Iron Age or early Middle Ages. The church was probably built as a royal demesne or a church for a powerful leade ...
Founded: c. 1120 | Location: Ljungbyholm, Sweden

Hälsingtuna Church

Hälsingtuna Church was built in the late 1100s, but enlarged several times. Among medieval wooden sculptures the Baroque pulpit dates from 1665 and altar from 1680. There are two runestones in the churchyard; another one, so-called Hälsingtunastenen is probably the biggest in Sweden.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Hudiksvall, Sweden

Hög Church

Hög Church was originally built around the year 1190. Later it was enlarged to west and between 1702-1703 also the east. There are several medieval wooden sculptures in the church, for example a triptych made in 1471. The pulpit was moved to Hög Church in 1671.
Founded: c. 1190 | Location: Hudiksvall, Sweden

Östra Eneby Church

Östra Eneby church nave was built first around 1200, but arches were added in the 14th century. In the Great Northern War (1719) Russian soldiers burnt it down. The middle nave was rebuilt 1727-1733 and the tower few years later. There are still some medieval frescoes visible in arches.
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Norrköping, Sweden

Tingstäde Church

A wooden church was built on the site of the current one in Tingstäde during the early 12th century. The church has later been replaced by first a Romanesque church, of which the portals survive, and later once more rebuilt in Gothic style during the 13th and 14th centuries. Few alterations have been made to the church since. The church was one of three so-called asylum churches on Gotland during the Middle Ages, a ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Tingstäde, Sweden

Foss Church

Foss church is first time mentioned in 1157, but it has been reconstructed several times. The tower dates from the 1870s. The altarpiece was painted by Pehr Hörberg in 1700s.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Munkedal, Sweden

Grönby Church

Grönby church nave was built in the 1100s. The tower was built first in 1400s and again in 1741. In the middle of the 1800s the church was enlarged. The vaults are decorated with beautiful paintings from the 1350s. The altar and pulpit originate from the 1600s.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Anderslöv, Sweden

Äspö Church

Äspö Church was built around 1200. It was much smaller than the current church reconstructed in the 19th and 20th centuries. The original nave is however survived. The tower was added in 1854. There are two original mural paintings survived, made by so-called Everlöv Master in the second half of 1400s. The triumph crucifix dates from c. 1400 and pulpit from 1598.
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Trelleborg, Sweden

Väne-Åsaka Church

The oldest parts of Väne-Åsaka Church date probably from the 1100s. The bell tower was added in 1836. The oldest inventory is a font dating probably from the 13th century. The pulpit was made in 1720 and altar in 1735.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Trollhättan, Sweden

Kungs-Barkarö Church

Kungs-Barkarö granite church with brick features and wooden vaults was built at the end of the 13th century. A few 15th century murals are still visible in the vault. This small church, in fact the smallest one in the diocese, holds just 100 people. The church bell is from the 13th century and the crucifix is from the 1360s. Guided tours can be arranged for groups. Please contact the parish registrar’s office.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Kungsör, 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

Almunge Church

Almunge church was built in the 13th century and extended to the east in the 1660’s. The bell tower was added in the 16th century. Inside the church the most interesting artefacts are the imposing altar retable from 1717 and distinguished pulpit from 1716 made by Carl Spaak. Baptismal font of limestone was made in the 13th century and frescoes by Albertus Pictor in 1490s.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Uppsala, 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.