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

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.