Medieval churches in Sweden

Hagby Church

Hagby Church is one of Sweden's few preserved round churches, and is considered by many to be the best preserved one in the country. The predecessor of Hagby stone church was the wooded Saint Sigfrid chapel, which was located about two kilometres south of the present church structure. The construction of this stone church began in the late 12th century. The structure was meant to serve both as a sanctuary and a fortified ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Ljungbyholm, Sweden

Norrsunda Church

The eastern tower of Norrsunda stone church was completed in the late 1100s. The nave was extended to the west and the porch and sacristy were built in the late 1400s. The chapel of Sparreska was added in 1633. The red brick chapel was built by Ebba Oxenstierna after her husband Johan Sparre. The tower got its present appearance in the first half of 1800s. The church was restored in 1902 and 1954. The wall paintings have ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Sigtuna, Sweden

Nederluleå Church

Nederluleå church is the largest medieval church in Norrland. It was built during the 15th century and inaugurated by Archbishop Jacob Ulfsson in 1492. The church has a very rich interior and furnishings. The late-mediaeval frescos in the chancel were by the school of Albertus Pictor. The richly decorated triptych was made in Antwerpen around 1520 and it is one of the finest in Sweden. The font and cruficix date al ...
Founded: 1492 | Location: Gammelstad, Sweden

Norra Fågelås Church

Norra Fågelås Church is first mentioned in 1225, but it has probably been built already in the 1100s. It was largely restored in 1650s. The Stackelbergska family grave chapel was added 1749 and the next restoration was completed in 1754. The cruficix from the 1400s is today in Stockholm Historical Museum. the font is made of sandstone and donated to the church in 1651 by M.E. Sparre of Almnäs Castle. The pulpit dates f ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Hjo, Sweden

Ytterselö Church

According the legend the first church in Selaön island was built by St. Olaf (Olaf II of Norway) in early 1000s. The current Ytterselö Church dates however from the 1100s. In the late Middle Ages it was changed as a square form hall church with vaults. The funeral chapel of Soop på Mälsåker family was added in 1650. The new choir was completed in 1728. The beautifully carved triptych dates from ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Stallarholmen, Sweden

Aspö Church

The tower and northern wall are the oldest parts of Aspö Church (dating from the 12th century). The chancel was completed in 1300s and the church was enlarged in 1400s. It has an interesting inventory; the fine iron-made door between nave and porch dates from the original church, font is from 1200s and the large altar triptych from 1472. There is also a runestone from the 1000s in the church porch.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Strängnäs, Sweden

St. Gertrud’s Church

St. Gertrud’s Church was built in the 1450s after King Eric of Pomerania had ordered to move the town of Västervik from Gamleby to the present location. The city and the Stegeholm castle were destroyed in a battle in 1517 and inhabitants moved back to the old city. After King Gustav Vasa ordered them to move back, the church was restored as a Lutheran church. It was once again destroyed in 1612 during the battl ...
Founded: 1450s | Location: Västervik, Sweden

Silvåkra Church

The choir of Silvåkra Church dates from the 12th century. Since it has been reconstructed several times. Medieval font and sculpture of Virgin Mary holding Jesus are the oldest items inside the church. The pulpit dates from 1578.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Veberöd, 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

Husby-Ärlinghundra Church

The stone church of Husby-Ärlinghundra was built in the mid-12th century. The porch and sacristy were added later. The bell tower was erected in 1717 and restored in 1819 to the present appearance. The sculpture of St. Michael, crucifix and mural paintings date from the Middle Ages. The Baroque-style pulpit was made in 1721.
Founded: ca. 1150 | Location: Märsta, Sweden

Vansö Church

The oldest parts of Vansö Church were built in the end of 12th century. It was enlarged to east in the 14th century and again around 1450. The tower cap was demolished in 1765 and rebuilt 1901-1902. The interior consists of a medieval altarpiece (1400s), crucifix (1270-1300), font (c. 1300) and two reliquaries (1400s). Vaults were decorated with murals in the 1460s.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Strängnäs, 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

Ardre Church

The oldest part of the Ardre Church is the tower, dating from about 1200. The tower originally belonged to an earlier church building from the 12th century, the nave and choir of which was replaced with the current building circa 1250. The sculptured choir portal originally also belonged to the earlier church. The interior of the church was heavily remodelled after plans by artist Axel Herman Hägg in 1900-1902, in a ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Ljugarn, 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

Gammelgarn Church

The chancel and middle nave of the Gammelgarn Church were built in the early 1300s. The fortified tower date from the previous church built in the 1200s. The southern portal is beautifully decorated with mural paintings, made probably by master Fabulator. A pulpit was probably carved by the carpenter master Jochim Sterling from Visby in the 17th century.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Katthammarsvik, Sweden

Fru Alstad Church

A Romanesque Fru Alstad church was built in the 12th century, and later it was rebuilt to a magnificent Gothic style temple. The church was originally a pilgrimage church and below the cemetery are still remains from a spring made for sacrifices. The baptismal font is made of sandstone and descends from the 1100s. The triumph crucifix and mural paintigs date from the 1400s, altar from 1689 and pulpit from 1730s.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Trelleborg, Sweden

Gryta Church

The age of Gryta Church is unknown. The first church, probably a wooden one, was built there in the 1000’s. How old present stone church is impossible to say, the remains of earlier church can be hidden in the gray stone walls, covered by a thick plaster layer. The church is richly decorated with mural paintings and they are well preserved. The paintings might have been done by Albert the Painter (Albertus Pictor). ...
Founded: 11-12th century | Location: Örsundsbro, Sweden

Mästerby Church

Mästerby Church dates largely from the 13th century. The nave, choir and apse were built first, at the beginning of the century. In the middle of the same century, the tower was also built. The nave was made higher about a century later, and at this time both the nave and choir received vaulted ceilings. The church has remained relatively unaltered since the end of the Middle Ages. Only the sacristy is significantly late ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Mästerby, Sweden

Stora Mellösa Church

Stora Mellösa Church was buit in the late 1100s. It was enlarged to the east in the 15th century and the porch and sacristy were added in the 16th century. The chapel of near Göksholm castle owners was built in the mid-1600s. The spire and some other parts were destroyed by fire in 1743. The restoration was made between 1830-1836. The interior date mainly from the 1600-1800s. The font is original from the 12th ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Stora Mellösa, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Beersel Castle

The moated castle at Beersel is one of the few exceptionally well-preserved examples of medieval fortifications in Belgium. It remains pretty much as it must have appeared in the 15th century. Remarkably, it was never converted into a fortified mansion. A visitor is able to experience at first-hand how it must have felt to live in a heavily fortified castle in the Middle Ages.

The castle was built in around 1420 as a means of defence on the outer reaches of Brussels. The tall, dense walls and towers were intended to hold any besiegers at bay. The moat and the marshy ground along its eastern, southern and western edges made any attack a formidable proposition. For that reason, any attackers would have chosen its weaker northern defences where the castle adjoins higher lying ground. But the castle was only taken and destroyed on one occasion in 1489, by the inhabitants of Brussels who were in rebellion against Maximilian of Austria.

After being stormed and plundered by the rebels it was partially rebuilt. The pointed roofs and stepped gables are features which have survived this period. The reconstruction explains why two periods can be identified in the fabric of the edifice, particularly on the outside.

The red Brabant sandstone surrounds of the embrasures, now more or less all bricked up, are characteristic of the 15th century. The other embrasures, edged with white sandstone, date from the end of the 15th century. They were intended for setting up the artillery fire. The merlons too are in white sandstone. The year 1617 can be clearly seen in the foundation support on the first tower. This refers to restorations carried out at the time by the Arenberg family.

Nowadays, the castle is dominated by three massive towers. The means of defence follow the classic pattern: a wide, deep moat surrounding the castle, a drawbridge, merlons on the towers, embrasures in the walls and in the towers, at more or less regular intervals, and machiolations. Circular, projecting towers ensured that attacks from the side could be thwarted. If the enemy were to penetrate the outer wall, each tower could be defended from embrasures facing onto the inner courtyard.

The second and third towers are flanked by watchtowers from which shots could be fired directly below. Between the second and third tower are two openings in the walkway on the wall. It is not clear what these were used for. Were these holes used for the disposing of rubbish, or escape routes. The windows on the exterior are narrow and low. All light entering comes from the interior. The few larger windows on the exterior date from a later period. It is most probable that the third tower - the highest - was used as a watchtower.