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

Wawel Castle

Wawel Hill – a Jurassic limestone rock, a dominant feature in the landscape of Kraków, have provided a safe haven for people who have settled here since the Paleolithic Age. It is supposed that the Slav people started living on Wawel hill as early as the 7th century. Early medieval legends tell stories about a dreadful dragon that lived in a cave on Wawel Hill, about his slayer Krakus, and about the latter’s daughter Wanda, who drowned herself in the Vistula rather than marry a German knight. Towards the end of the first millennium A.D Wawel began to play the role of the centre of political power.In the 9th century it became the principal fortified castrum of the Vislane tribe. The first historical ruler of Poland, Miesco I (c.965-992) of the Piast dynasty as well as his successors: Boleslas the Brave (992-1025) and Miesco II (1025-1034) chose Wawel Hill as one of their residences.

At that time Wawel became one of the main Polish centres of Christianity. The first early Romanesque and Romanesque sacral buildings were raised here, including a stone cathedral that was erected after the bishopric of Kraków was established in the year 1000.

During the reign of Casimir the Restorer (1034-1058) Wawel became a significant political and administrative centre for the Polish State. Casimir’s son, Boleslas the Bold (1058-1079) began the construction of a second Romanesque cathedral, which was finished by Boleslas the Wrymouth (1102-1138). In his last will of 1138, this prince divided Poland into districts, and provided that Kraków was to be the residence of the senior prince. In 1291 the city of Kraków along with Wawel Hill temporarily fell under the Czech rule, and Wenceslas II from the Premysl dynasty was crowned King of Poland in Wawel cathedral.

In 1306 the Duke of Kuyavia Ladislas the Short (1306-1333) entered Wawel and was crowned King of Poland in the Cathedral in 1320. It was the first historically recorded coronation of a Polish ruler on Wawel Hill. Around that time, at the initiative of Ladislas the Short, the construction of the third Gothic cathedral began, the castle was expanded and the old wooden and earthen fortifications were replaced by brick ones. The tomb of Ladislas the Short in the cathedral started a royal necropolis of Polish kings in Krakow.The last descendant of the Piast dynasty, Casimir the Great (1333-1370) brought Wawel to a state of unprecedented splendour. In 1364 the expanded gothic castle witnessed the marriage of Casimir’s granddaughter Elizabeth to Charles IV accompanied by a famous convention of kings and princes, subsequently entertained by a rich burgher Wierzynek. The accession to the throne in 1385 of Jadwiga from the Hungarian dynasty of Andegavens, and her marriage to a Lithuanian prince Ladislas Jagiello (1386-1434) started another era of prosperity for Wawel. The royal court employed local and western European artists and also Rus painters. During the reign of Casimir Jagiellon (1447-1492) the silhouette of the hill was enriched by three high brick towers: the Thieves’ Tower, the Sandomierz Tower and the Senatorial Tower. The first humanists in Poland and tutors to the king’s sons: historian Jan Długosz and an Italian by the name Filippo Buonacorsi (also known as Callimachus) worked there at that time.

The Italian Renaissance arrived at Wawel in the early 16th century. King Alexander (1501-1506) and his brother Sigismund I the Old (1506-1548) commissioned the construction of a new palace in place of the Gothic residence, with an impressive large courtyard with arcaded galleries which was completed about 1540. Sigismund’s patronage also left an indelible impression in the cathedral, where a family chapel was erected, known today as Sigismund’s Chapel - the work of Bartolomeo of Berrecci Florence, and through various foundations, one of which was that of a large bell, called the Sigismund to commemorate the king. Close artistic and cultural relations with Italy were strengthened in 1518 by the king’s marriage to Bona Sforza. Alongside Italian artists, German architects, wood workers, painters and metal smiths worked for the king. The last descendant of the Jagiellonian dynasty, Sigismund II Augustus (1548-1572), enriched the castle’s interiors with a magnificent collection of tapestries woven in Brussels. In the “Golden Age” of Polish culture Wawel became one of the main centres of humanism in Europe.

The reign of Sigismund III Waza (1587-1632) also made a strong impression on the history of Wawel. After a fire in the castle in 1595 the king rebuilt the burned wing of the building in the early Baroque style. The relocation of the royal court to Warsaw was the cause of a slow but nevertheless steady deterioration in the castle’s condition. The monarchs visited Kraków only occasionally. Restoration of the castle was undertaken during the reign of John III Sobieski, the Wettins and Stanislas Augustus to counteract neglect.

After Poland had lost its independence in 1795, the troops of partitioning nations, Russia, Prussia and Austria, subsequently occupied Wawel which finally passed into the hands of the Austrians. The new owners converted the castle and some of the secular buildings into a military hospital, and demolished some others, including churches. After the period of the Free City of Kraków (1815-1846) Wawel was once more annexed by Austria and turned into a citadel dominating the city. By the resolution passed by the Seym of Galicia in 1880, the castle was presented as a residence to the Emperor of Austria Franz Josef I. The Austrian troops left the hill between 1905-1911. At the turn of the 20th century a thorough restoration of the cathedral was conducted, and shortly afterwards a process of restoration of the royal castle began which lasted several decades.

When Poland regained its independence in 1918, the castle served as an official residence of the Head of State, and as a museum of historic interiors. During the Nazi occupation the castle was the residence of the German governor general, Hans Frank. Polish people managed to remove the most valuable objects, including the tapestries and the “Szczerbiec” coronation sword to Canada, from where they returned as late as 1959-1961. At present, the main curators of Wawel are Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collection and the Metropolitan Basilica Board on Wawel Hill.