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

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.