Medieval churches in Sweden

Hjortsberga Church

Hjortsberga church, built in the 1100s, is one of the oldest in Blekinge Region. The current nave ad chancel date from the early 1200s. The magnificent pulpit was made by Åke Truedsson in 1684. The altarpiece dates from 1745. Hjortsberga church is located in the middle of the Iron Age burial ground.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ronneby, Sweden

Ludgo Church

The nave of the Ludgo Church dates from the late 1200s. The chancel was enlarged and two chapels (for Drakenhielm and Sifverstjerna families) were added in 1673-1678. There are two sandstone sculptures probably from the 1400s. Two runestones from the 1000s are located to the church entrance.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Nyköping, Sweden

Alunda Church

Alunda Church originates from the 1200s and it was enlarged in 1400s. It was badly damaged by fire in 1542 and 1715. The ruins were left to decay until the reconstruction made in 1780-1787. The font is the main item of inventory retained from medieval times. There are also the remains of medieval frescoes made in 1465. The altarpiece is from 1862 painted by Johan Zacharius Blackstadius.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Östhammar, Sweden

Frötuna Church

Frötuna Church was built of grey stone in the 12th century. It was extended to east between 1250–1275. The tomb dates from the mid-1600s. There are several medieval aftefacts in Frötuna church, including a triump crucifix (1275), font (1200s) and sculpture of St. Olaf (early 1300s). The pulpit was made in 1640s and the altar dates from 1773.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Norrtälje, Sweden

Kumla Church

Kumla Church was built around 1300 and included a longhouse and a small bell tower. In the end of the 15th century the wood roof was replaced by a brick star vaults. In the 18th century they made the windows bigger and built the bell tower. The church is famous for its beautiful frescoes by Albertus Pictor painted in 1482. The stained glass windows in the choir are the work of the Västerås artist Nils-Aron Berg ...
Founded: c. 1300 | Location: Sala, Sweden

Ivetofta Church

Ivetofta Church was probably built in the 12th century, the tower (built in stone and decorated with carved sandstone) on the western side being added in the 13th century. The altar, pulpit, pews and the baptismal font were donated by Sophia Brahe in the early 17th century, who had moved to the area with her second husband and was known for her work in Danish genealogy. These features have been retained in the renovated c ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Bromölla, Sweden

Skegrie Church

Skegrie church was constructed in the end of the 12th century. What remains from that time are the choir and parts of the nave. In 1844 Carl Georg Brunius made a large renovation and the west tower among other things was built. The pulpit originates from year 1611 and the baptismal font, made of oak, from 1661. There are also tin candlesticks from the beginning of the 17th century.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Trelleborg, Sweden

Gislöv Church

Gislöv Church chancel and naves dates back to the 1200s, and the tower was built in stages between the years 1760-1824. The original font descends from year 1656 and is the oldest inventory in the church. In year 1936 the vaults were reconstructed. They are richly decorated with frescoes and date from the 15th and 16th centuries. The renovation restored the church almost entirely in the condition it had been 500 year ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Trelleborg, Sweden

Gylle Church

Gylle Church dates from the late 1100s, but it has been reconstructed several times. The tower was erected in the 1400s or early 1500s. The nave was rebuilt in 1875. The altar and pulpit date from the 1500s.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Trelleborg, Sweden

Hejdeby Church

Hejdeby Church was built in the 13th century, the choir and nave first (in late Romanesque style) and the tower later (showing early Gothic influences). The interior of the church is richly decorated with medieval frescos. These date from two periods: the oldest are from the 13th century and depict apostles, the crowning of Mary, and various saints. The other set of frescos date from the 15th century and depict scenes fro ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Visby, Sweden

Vist Church

Vists Church was probably built in the 1200s according the dating in baptismal font. It was restored and the tower added in 1891-93. The crucifix dates from the 1600s and bells from the 1700s (the smaller one from 1704 is probably a war trophy from Poland). The altar was made in 1939 by Gunnar Torhamn.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Ulricehamn, Sweden

Norra Björke Church

Norra Björke Church was probably built in the early 1400s. It was enlarged in 1754 and the tower was demolished in 1817. The font dates from the 13th century and the altar from 1772. It is probably painted by master Nubbe in Gothenburg.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Trollhättan, Sweden

Skörstorp Church

Skörstorp Church was built in the middle of the 12th century, and is the only remaining medieval round church in the Diocese of Skara. It derives its shape from originally being built to serve several different purposes; apart from a place of worship, it also served a defensive purpose, i.e. it was a fortified church. The church has been altered successively throughout the centuries. The church porch is not original ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Falköping, Sweden

Fleringe Church

Fleringe Church dates from the 13th century, and the nave and choir are the oldest parts. Somewhat later during the same century the tower was added. The church has not been substantially altered since, but suffered damage in a heavy fire in 1676. The church is located in a cemetery surrounded by a low wall in which a remaining medieval lychgate still sits. Outside, the church stables still stand, which is uncommon. The ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Fleringe, Sweden

Hellvi Church

The choir portal of Hellvi Church carries a runic inscription which proclaims that a man called Lafrans Botvidarson built the church. The oldest part of the church is the tower, Romanesque in style. The upper part of the tower collapsed following a storm in 1534, hence its unusual shape. The nave and choir date from the middle of the 13th century and display an early form of Gothic style. The nave consists of two aisles, ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hellvi, Sweden

Lokrume Church

Lokrume Church history dates back to the 12th century. The northern wall of the presently visible church nave dates from this century. Parts of the northern wall of the choir also date from this church. However, later reconstructions have reshaped the church and nothing more remains of this first, Romanesque church. During the second quarter of the 13th century, the larger part of the presently visible choir was built, w ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Lokrume, Sweden

Vallstena Church

The western part of the nave and the church tower are the oldest parts of the asymmetrical Vallstena church. They date from the early 13th century. A new chancel arch was built at the middle of the same century, and around circa 1300 the new choir was built. Reconstruction of the nave also started around this time; the original plan seems to have been to replace the entire nave with a new, larger nave but for some reason ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Vallstena, Sweden

Ekeby Church

The oldest part of Ekeby Church is the Romanesque tower, dating from the end of the 12th century. The nave and choir were built around a century later in Gothic style. The tower was also heightened to its present height at the end of the 13th century. Most notable in the exterior of the church are the two southern portals, which are richly decorated with stone carvings. These were originally painted, and fragments of co ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ekeby, Sweden

Räpplinge Church

Räpplinge church was originally built in the middle of the 12th century, but rebuilt and widened as late as 1802. The votive ship in Räpplinge church is the most authentic in the churches of Öland. It date back to the middle of the 17th century and surprisingly well preserved even though it has demonstrably been in the church since 1692. The model is of a three-masted naval ship with 42 cannons on the gun d ...
Founded: ca. 1150 | Location: Borgholm, Öland, Sweden

Jumkil Church

The medieval church of Jumkil was originally built in the early 13th century. The vaulting was made in the 16th century and detached bell tower was added in the mid-18th century. There are wooden sculptures and triumphal crucifix from the 16th century. Baptismal font is from the 12th century, made of Gotland sandstone, with many carved motifs, such as the birth of Jesus and the adoration of the Three Wise Men. The medieva ...
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.