Medieval churches in Sweden

Igelösa Church

The Romanesque style apse of Igelösa Church was built in the 12th century. The tower and vaults were added in the 15th century. Two choirs were added in the 17th century. There are two sarcophagi in the so-called “Gyllenkrookska koret”, which is the grave of Axel Gyllenkrook and his wife. The current appearance dates from 1859, when the church was restored by the design of C. G. Brunius. The altarpiece an ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Lund, Sweden

Vibyggerå Old Church

The old church of Vibyggerå was first mentioned in 1314, but it was probably built in the late 1200s or early 1300s. Since then it has been reconstructed several times. After the new church was completed in 1874 the Vibyggerå old church was abandoned until 1916. The new church was then burned down by lightning and the old one had to be restored to worship use again. The interior is decorated with beautiful fr ...
Founded: ca. 1300 | Location: Docksta, Sweden

Kalmar Church

Kalmar Church was built of granite in the late 12th century. Around 1300 it was enlarged and modified to the aisleless Gothic church. In 1485 famous Albertus Pictor decorated walls and vaults with murals. Frescoes were restored in 1958 and still visible. Th current tower was added in 1830. There is font with a cuppa, made of red sandstone, from the late 1100s and medieval wooden sculptures (like a triptych from the mid-14 ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Bålsta, Sweden

Hovsta Church

Hovsta church is a brick church and its oldest parts date from the 12th century. The western portal and tower were added in the 1200s and the sacristy in 1500s. The font pedestal, made of sandstone, dates from the 1100s. The font itself was made in the end of the 18th century, as well as the altarpiece. The pulpit was constructed in 1830s.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Örebro, Sweden

Voxtorp Church

Voxtorp is one of the two interesting round churches in the Kalmar region. It was built at the beginning of the 13th century as the church of a large medieval farm. According to a legend, Voxtorp Church was built by a rich woman named Lona, who built it so she would not need to go to the church a gentry in Halltorp built on his manor. Like the other churches in the area, Voxtorp became a fortified church. During the 13th ...
Founded: c. 1240 | Location: Ljungbyholm, Sweden

Gråmanstorp Church

Gråmanstorp Church was built by the monks of Herrevad Cistercian Abbey and it was completed around 1160. The porch was added in the 15th century. The font is original and cruficix dates also from the Middle Ages. The altar and pulpit date from the early 18th century.
Founded: c. 1160 | Location: Klippan, Sweden

Dörby Church

The current Dörby church made of sandstone replaced the wooden one in the first half of 13th century. During the Kalmar War 1611-1612 the church was sacked and burnt down. It was restored in 1624-1625 and again in 1778. The crucifix is the only survived item from the medieval church.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Kalmar, Sweden

Hanhals Old Church

Hanhals Church has some elements dating back to the 13th century. Porches were added in the late Middle Ages and the church was enlarged in 1764. The original font, made around 1225, is today in Stockholm Historical Museum. The pulpit dates from the 17th century. In the churchyard, you can see the grave of “The Wise Old Woman From Kyrkabacka”, who was well-known throughout Sweden in the late 19th century.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Kungsbacka, Sweden

Mortorp Church

Mortorp Church was built in the mid-1200s, but after several enlargements and restorations there are only few medieval traces left. The belfry was built in 1737. The interior is mainly from the 18th century.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Vassmolösa, Sweden

Fridlevstad Church

Fridlevstad Church, built in the late 1100s or early 1200s, is one of the oldest in Blekinge region. The stone church could also had defensive purposes. It was burned and looted during the Northern Seven Years" War (1563-1570) by Swedish troops and only walls survived. After the war the church was completely rebuilt and again in the 18th century. The altarpiece dates from the 17th century and contains a painting dep ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Rödeby, Sweden

Bergshammar Church

The church in Bergshammar was built in the 15th century and replaced an older wooden church. The sacristy dates from 1680. Old murals were discovered in 1967. The medieval baptismal font has a brass plate from 1950. The wooden altar was donated to the church in 1950 and has a crucifix from the 19th century. The pulpit was made in 1671 by Lars Olsson, a master craftsman from Stockholm.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Nyköping, Sweden

Gösslunda Church

Gösslunda sandstone church has been built around the year 1100. It represents Romanesque architecture and is obviously influenced by English church building style (as well as the near Skalunda Church). Massive walls refer also that church has been constructed for defensive purposes. There is a unique relief in the tower portal depicting the centaur with Viking helmet and sword. This pagan relief could be made to exp ...
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Lidköping, Sweden

Söne Church

Söne church was built c. 1190 in Scanian architectural style and first time mentioned in 1291. The interior is decorated with frescoes from the 1200s and late 1400s. The font has been survived from the 1100s and the pulpit dates from 1692.
Founded: c. 1190 | Location: Söne, Sweden

Skärkind Old Church

The old church of Skärkind from the 1100s has survived as a separate chapel near the new church (inaugurated in 1836). The font and wooden St. Mary's sculpture date from the 1400s.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Norsholm, Sweden

Husby-Sjuhundra Church

Husby-Sjuhundra Church is one of the oldest in Uppland. It was built in the late 1100s. The construction material is grey stone and it is dedicated to St. Lawrence. The church was probably built by the order of Knut Eriksson, the son of famous Eric IX of Sweden. The current choir dates from the mid-1200s and Gothic roof arches from the 1400s. The medieval tower was demolished in 1728 and the church was enlarged. The curre ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Rimbo, Sweden

Edestad Church

Edestad church was probably built in the 1200s and it was a popular pilgrimage site in the Middle Ages due the adjacent 'holy' spring. The cruficix dates from the 1300s and the pulpit from 1600s. The Rococo style altarpiece was painted in 1763.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Ronneby, Sweden

Tuna Church

Tuna Church is a brick-built medieval church dating from the 1200s. The porch was added in the 1400s and arches in 1500s. The present tower was erected in 1877. The interior is decorated with frescoes (oldest date from the 1300s, choir murals were added in 1620). The remarkable wooden Madonna sculpture is probably a North German work from the 1400s.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Nyköping, Sweden

Söderby-Karl Church

Söderby-Karl Church was built around 1300 or soon later. The porch was added later in the 1300s and brick arches in the mid-1400s. The external bell tower was erected probably in 1664. The main restoration was done in 1790. The interior is decorated with beautiful murals from the late Middle Ages which have never been overpainted. The sandstone font dates from 1200s.
Founded: c. 1300 | Location: Norrtälje, Sweden

Skepptuna Church

Skepptuna was built of bricks and stone in the early 1200s, but it was destroyed by fire around 1300. During the restoration the church was enlarged. The altar screen with medieval paintings is the most valuable artefact in Skepptuna Church. It was done in Brussels and bought to Sweden after 1500. The font dates also from the early 1500s.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Sigtuna, Sweden

Kimstad Church

Kimstad church nave was built in the 1100s and new choirs and chapel were constructed in the 1650s. The tower cap dates from 1770. The altarpiece, 1730, is probably made by the same artist who worked in Stockholm Royal Palace. The late Renaissance pulpit was made between 1660–1669.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Norrköping, 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.