Medieval churches in Sweden

Arbrå Church

The late-medieval church of Arbrå was built probably around the year 1500. It was badly damaged by fire in 1635. The church was enlarged to north and south between 1753-1754 and the present sacristy was added also after that. The bell tower date from the year 1630. The mural paintings date from the 16th century. The pulpit was made in 1780s after the previous one was donated to Alfta Church.
Founded: ca. 1500 | Location: Arbrå, Sweden

Edebo Church

The present stone church was built during the second half of 1400s, but the vestry may date from the 1200s. The church is decorated with well-preserved frescoes made by so-called "Edebo master". Paintings depict events from the Old and New Testament. The porch was built in 1514. A bell tower stands on the other side of the highway northwest of the church. The large bell was cast in 1625.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Norrtälje, Sweden

Skå church

The nave of Romanescue-style Skå church was built probably in the late 1100s. It was enlarged to to east and the sacristy was added in the 14th century. The church was completely restored in 1695 but destroyed by fire only couple of days after the inauguration. The new restoration began immediatelly and it was completed in 1702. The present tower was added in 1868.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ekerö, Sweden

Norra Sandsjö Church

Norra Sandsjö church was originally built in the late 1100s. It has been enlarged later in the Middle Ages and again in the 1600s. The tower collapsed in 1635 and replaced with external bell tower. The Baroque-style interior is mainly from the early 18th century.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Nässjö, Sweden

Veckholm Church

Veckholm Church was built in the late 13th century and the sacristy and porch were added in 1400s. The chancel was added in the 1500s and the magnificent tomb of famous de la Gardie family in the 1600s. The font of Veckholm church date from the 12th century and the altar was made in Brussels around 1500. The pulpit has been donated by Johan Pontusson de la Gardie.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Enköping, Sweden

Litslena Church

Litslena church was completed in the 1100s and consisted of a rectangular nave, sacristy and porch. The present exterior date mainly from the 14th century. The current porch was added in the 1400s. The mural paintings, made around 1470 by unknown master, are well-preserved (particurarly original colours). The fine altar was carved in Lübeck around 1480. The font dates from the 1100s.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ekolsund, Sweden

Gökhem Church

Gökhem Church was built in the late 1100s or early 1200s. The church is a typical medieval building, built in the Romanesque period. It is best known of mural paintings made by master Amund in the 15th century. The original organs were built in the 1775. The belfry was erected by Russian prisoners of war in 1720.
Founded: ca. 1200 | Location: Falköping, Sweden

Marka Church

The Romanescue style Marka Church was built in the late 1100s or early 1200s. The sacristy was added later in the Middle Ages. The original tower was demolished in 1750 and the new wooden belfry was completed in 1752. The great bell date from the year 1583 and the small one from 1751. The altarpiece date from the late 17th century as well as the Baroque-style pulpit.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Falköping, Sweden

Svartrå Church

Svartrå church. One of Halland’s most beautiful churches, was probably built in the late 12th century. It was enlarged in the 1th century and the new chapel was added in 1757. The wooden belfry was added in 1772. The interior is characterized from the 18th century with beautiful Rococo roof paintings. The oldest item is a font made around 1200. The tabernacle date from the 16th century.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Falkenberg, Sweden

Asige Church

Asige church was probably built during the 12th century but has been extended and rebuilt until 1890. The interior is characterized by Neoclassicism. The triumph crucifix date from the 1200s, the rest of interior is date from the 19th century.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Slöinge, 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

Valö Church

The greystone church of Valö was built in the late 1300s and renovated in the next century. This is a fascinating church to visit, since it has scarcely been altered structurally since the Middle Ages, and contains much interesting inventory from before the Reformation. This includes a processional crucifix from the 15th century and several medieval sculptures. There is also a fine medieval triptych, unusual for a ch ...
Founded: late 1300s | Location: Östhammar, Sweden

Vika Church

Vika Church was built partially in the 13th century and mainly reconstructed to the late Gothic appearance in the late 1400s. The church includes frescos from the 16th century with motifs taken from the Gospels. It also contains carved statues in wood from the 13th and 15th centuries. The 16th century baptismal font is a copy of the one in Storkyrkan (Stockholm Cathedral).
Founded: 13th century | Location: Falun, Sweden

Skårby Church

‎Skårby Church was built in the mid-1100s. The first record of donations for the new church was dated to 1145. The medieval construction is well-preserved, only small changes and additions have been made between 1300s-1500s and in the early 1700s. The interior is covered with significant mural paintings. The bleacher date from the 17th century, the altar was made by Matthias Stenberg in 1734 and the pulpit was ...
Founded: ca. 1150 | Location: Ystad, Sweden

Västra Nöbbelöv Church

The Church of Västra Nöbbelöv originates from the 12th century. Some parts were added in the 19th century. The church is known for its unique acoustic resonators. The frescoes painted in the 14th century are also an interesting detail. The Västra Nöbbelöv Runestone, listed as DR 278 in the Rundata catalog, is located to the churchyard.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Skivarp, Sweden

Sjörup Old Church

The old church of Sjörup waas built between 1150-1170 by “stone master Carl”. The tower and sacristy were added around 1270. The church was left to decay in the 19th century when it was noted to be too small. The restoration was started in 20th century. There is a rune stone called Sjörupstenen in the churchyard, dating from the 10th century.
Founded: 1150-1170 | Location: Ystad, Sweden

Barkåkra Church

Barkåkra Church was originally built in the 12th century. It was fully restored in the 19th century. The older pieces, including the Baptismal font, are from the early 12th century. The retable by David Jastro dates from the 18th Century. The painted glass in the nave was made by Randi Fisher and Ralph Bergholtz.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ängelholm, Sweden

Tåssjö Church

The walls of Tåssjö church date probably from the 13th century. It was reconstructed in 1850-1860s. The font, made of sandstone, date from the 13th and pulpit from the 18th century. The altarpiece was donated by council Carl Henrik Roth in 1842. There is also a medieval wooden sculpture, carved probably in the 15th century.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Munka-Ljungby, Sweden

Gödelöv Church

Gödelöv Church was probably built in the 1200s and the tower was added in the next century. The last restoration was made in 1905. The pulpit was made in 1580 and altar also dates from the 16th century. The font, made in the Middle Ages, has been brought from Östra Tunhem church.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Genarp, Sweden

Rolfstorp Church

The nave of Rolfstorp Church was built in the 1200s in Romanesque style. In 17th century the church was enlarged and the current tower was added in 1926. It replaced the earlier wooden belfry. The interior is decorated with medieval mural paintings, dating from from the 14th and 15th centuries.The Baroque-style altarpiece dates from 1655 and is made by master Jonas Abilla. The pulpit was also made in 1655. The stone-made ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Rolfstorp, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.