Medieval churches in Sweden

Svärdsjö Church

Oldest parts of the Svärdsjö Church date from the 1300s and the latest restoration was made in 1873. The church was substantially extended in the 17th and 18th centuries. A particular attraction are the ceiling frescoes, which were painted in the late 15th century. The baptismal font date from from the 13th and triumph crucifix from 16th century.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Svärdsjö, Sweden

Herrestad Church

Herrestad Church is one of the oldest existing churches in Sweden. According the Radiocarbon dating of wooden parts the construction was started in 1112. Archaeologists have also found nearby an early Christian tomb from the 1000s. It is quite probable there has been a wooden church before the stone church was built. Herrestad church was made of limestone in early Romanesque style. The interior includes a medieval tripty ...
Founded: ca. 1112 | Location: Vadstena, Sweden

Baldringe Church

Baldringe Church was built in the late 1100s or in the beginning of 1200s in Romanesque style. The restoration was made in 1880s and some medieval mural paintings were removed. The bell tower was also added then. The baptismal font, made of limestone of Gotland, date from the 1200s as well as the triumph crucifix. The pulpit and altar were made in the 1600s. There is also a Viking Age runestone, so-called Baldringestenen, ...
Founded: ca. 1200 | Location: Ystad, Sweden

Högestad Church

The beautiful stone church of Högestad was built in the 12th century. The tower was added in the 14th century. The church bell date also from the 14th century. The pulpit was made in 1726. There are also fine medieval frescoes in walls.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ystad, Sweden

Bjäresjö Church

Bjäresjö Church was built in the mid-1100s. The new nave was added in 1760 and it was enlarged in 1892. The church is very attractive due colourful and intricate frescoes from the Middle Ages. These have been somewhat heavily restored so that some of the detail has been lost, but the effect is still stunning and gives the visitor a real feeling of what the place would have been like hundreds of years ago. The i ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ystad, Sweden

Borrie Church

Borrie Church is one of the oldest and smallest in Scania. It was probably built in the early 1100s in Anglo-Saxon style. It consisted of a nave, chancel and apse. The tower was added in the 13th century and demolished in the 19th century. The church was abandoned and left to decay before the reconstruction made in the 19th century.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ystad, Sweden

Övraby Church

Övraby Church was built in the 1100s. The porch and tower were added in the 15th century. The church contains some interesting frescoes, whitewashed over after the Reformation and only rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century. Experts have dated these to the 12th century, making them some of the oldest surviving church frescoes in Scandinavia. The pulpit and altarpiece are both from the early 17th century.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Tomelilla, Sweden

Bromma Church

Bromma Church was built in the late 1100s. The tower and vaulting were constructed in the 1400s. The church was partially reconstructed in 1852. Also well-preserved mural paintings were found and restored then. The altarpiece was made between 1564-1627.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ystad, Sweden

Hedeskoga Church

Hedeskoga Church was built in the mid-1100s, probably by local stone master Carl. The tower was added in the 15th century. The tympanum in a south portal is a unique detail. The pulpit date from 1652 and altar from 1714. The great bell has a mark "1471".
Founded: ca. 1150 | Location: Ystad, Sweden

Östra Vemmenhög Church

The original Östra (East) Vemmenhög church was built in the 1100s. The chapel was added in 1580 for many of the near Dybäck castle owners are buried there. The church was enlarged in 1743 and got its present appearance in 1860. The font, made of sandstone, date from the 12th century.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Skurup, Sweden

Värna Church

The present church in Värna was constructed in the 1500s of stone and brick. At first the church had a south entrance, but it has always had the same nave. The belfry was erected in 1860.The altarpiece with its wood sculptures was made in Germany in the mid-1400s. The pulpit is made of wood and its framework is most likely from the 1600s. Beautiful mural paintings were made in 1728 by Anders Wikström.
Founded: ca. 1500 | Location: Linköping, Sweden

Torpa Church

The construction of Torpa church has been dated back to the end of the 12th century. What makes this church remarkable is that it is one of the few churches that appears to have been signed by its founder. On the original reliefs on the southern doorway there is runic writing that reads ”Odulf gjorde kyrkan” (Odulf built the church). The current chapel was originally a nave in the Roman church. The vault mural ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Varberg, Sweden

Hardeberga Church

Hardeberga Church was built around the year 1200. It was enlarged and the vaulted tower and porch were added in the Middle Ages. The current tower dates mainly from the restoration made in 1909-1910. The altarpiece dates from the early 17th century and the font from the Middle Ages. The decorated roof was painted by Godfrey Pettersson in 1909. In 2003 archaeologists found the previously unknown rune carving from the nort ...
Founded: ca. 1200 | Location: Södra Sandby, Sweden

Vomb Church

Vomb Church was built around the year 1200 and vaults were added in the late 1400s. Mural paintings date from 13th and 15th centuries. The current tower was erected in a restoration made by Helgo Zettervall in 1871. Baptismal font, made of limestone, dates from the 13th century. The pulpit and sculptures of Apostles were made in the 16th century.
Founded: ca. 1200 | Location: Veberöd, Sweden

Starby Church

The original church of Starby was made of brick around 1200. In the 15th century the roof got its arches and in 1737 the decayed belfry was replaced with a new one. The current tower and main restoration was made in 1818-1819 and it was enlarged in 1854-1855. The pulpit is probably made in 1668. The altarpiece dates from 1831 and is painted by Alexander Malmkvist. The original medieval font was removed in 1819, but broug ...
Founded: ca. 1200 | Location: Ängelholm, Sweden

Borgeby Church

The original structure of Borgeby Church dates from the 13th century. It was extended and improved in the 18th and 19th centuries. The church is a simple, white-painted stone building with a typical Skåne church tower (similar to a form of a stepped gable). The font dates from Middle Ages. The altarpiece was painted by Mårten Eskil Winge in 1870.
Founded: ca. 1200 | Location: Furulund, Sweden

Stråvalla Church

Stråvalla Church was built approximately between 1100-1350. The stone church represents the Romanesque style. The weathervane is signed with year 1671 and the belfry was erected in 1739. The interior contains mural paintings that were made in the early 1500s. The original font from the 13th century is located to the Statens historiska museer in Stockholm. The font in the church dates from the 14th century. The pulpi ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Stråvalla, Sweden

Offerdal Church

Offerdal Church was built in the mid-1100s and it is one of the four oldest churches in Jämtland. It has been reconstructed and restored several times since the 17th century. There are several medieval details in the church including a thurible from the 13th or 14th century and the original door. The font was made in 1716.
Founded: ca. 1150 | Location: Offerdal, Sweden

Askeby Abbey Church

Askeby Abbey Church is now a Lutheran parish church. Its oldest part was built during the first half of the 12th century by King Sverker the Elder. Some decades later a convent was added to the church. The first known donations addressed to Askeby Convent are from 1162. The buildings were erected close to a manor, strategically located near the ancient road leading from the Baltic coast to the central parts of the provinc ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Askeby, Sweden

Vittskövle Church

Vittskövle Church was originally built during the 12th or 13th century. In the 15th century a chapel was built to the north side. The chapel was dedicated to Saint Anne. The tower was built in the 16th century. In the 17th century a grave chapel was built for the Barnekow family. The vaults were built in the 15th century with mural paintings from the 1480s, showing stories from Genesis. These were later painted over ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Vittskövle, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.