Medieval churches in Sweden

Varnum Church

Varnum church dates probably from the 1100s, but was enlarged in the late 1400s and in 1745. the pulpit and altar were made in 1694. The medieval triumph crucifix (1200s) and font (1100s) are the oldest inventory in the church.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Hökerum, Sweden

Gärdhem Old Church Ruins

The old church of Gärdhem was built in the 12th century. The porch was probably added in the late Middle Ages. It was enlarged in 1727-1731, but in 1860 the parish decided to build a new church 1km to south. The old church was left to decay. The ruins were excavated in 1942-1943. Today stone walls remain.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Trollhättan, Sweden

Finnekumla Church

The oldest part of single-nave Finnekumla church dates from the 12th century, but it has been restored and enlarged several times, last time in the 19th century. The wooden tower dates from 1855. The font dates from the original church. There is also a rare handbook of church events from the year 1586.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Vegby, Sweden

Härna Church

Härna church dates from the 12th or 13th century, but it was largely rebuilt in the in the 17th century and renovated in 1838. The sandstone-made font dates from the original church. The altarpiece was painted in the 17th century and it was a gift from Börje Nilsson Drakenberg. The external belfry was erected in 1737.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Hökerum, Sweden

Knätte Church

The nave and choir of Knätte Church date probably from the 13th century. It was damaged by Danish army in 1520. The sacristy is modern, but there are two medieval doors. The font dates from the late 1100s, pulpit from 1600s and altarpiece from the 19th century.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Ulricehamn, Sweden

Kärråkra Church

Kärråkra Church dates from the late 1100s or early 1200s. There are oak logs in the church dating from even earlier stave church. The vaults were rebuilt in 1729-1730. The tower dates from 1910. The font is medieval.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Blidsberg, Sweden

Gårdstånga Church

Gårdstånga church dates from the 13th century. The pulpit (1612), altarpiece (1612) and font (1621) are the works of Danish sculptor and carver Jakob Kremberg, who was a prominent maker of church carvings in Skåne during the reign of Christian IV, King of Denmark and Norway.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Gårdstånga, Sweden

Kullerstad Church

Kullerstad church is a whitewashed Romanesque stone church dating from the 13th century. It is known of two Gunnar"s bridge runestones: according runes there was a man named Håkon who dedicated a bridge to the memory of his son Gunnar. The first runestone was found in the exterior wall of the church of Kullerstad in 1969 and is raised in the cemetery. The second stone was discovered in a church only 500 metres ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Norrköping, Sweden

Hall Church

Hall Church is a medieval Lutheran church in Hall on the Swedish island of Gotland. Hall Church dates from the 13th century. Oldest are the nave and choir, built in the second quarter of the century. The tower is somewhat later. Stylistically it is transitional between Romanesque and Gothic architecture. With one central column and four bays, forming two aisles, the nave of the church is the simplest structure fitting the ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hall, Sweden

Gann Church Ruins

Gann Church was built in the middle of the 13th century in the locality of Lärbro. The church consists of a chancel, nave and tower. The tower rests on the west wall of the nave. The tower was presumably built in the late 13th century. The church was presumably abandoned as early as in the 16th century. The chancel and arch contain mural paintings.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Lärbro, Sweden

Othem Church

Othem church was built in Romanesque style in the 13th century to the site of older 12th century church. There are medieval frescoes in walls from the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. The altarpiece dates from 1693 and pulpit from 1730s. 
Founded: 13th century | Location: Slite, Sweden

Lummelunda Church

The nave and tower are the oldest parts of the church in Lummelunda. They were both erected circa 1200. Originally, a choir built at the same time formed part of the church. This choir was razed in the middle of the 14th century, and the presently, disproportionally large choir was built instead. The rebuilding of the choir was intended as the beginning of a complete reconstruction scheme, but only the choir was executed. ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Lummelunda, Sweden

Hejnum Church

The Romanesque tower is the oldest part of Hejnum Church. It originally formed part of a Romanesque church, but the nave and choir were replaced during the mid-13th century by the presently visible, more Gothic parts. Remains of the original church were discovered during an excavation in 1914. A runic inscription above the western portal of the tower bears the inscription 'Botvid master mason'. The church remain ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hejnum, Sweden

Fole Church

The current Fole church was preceded by a Romanesque stone church. Of this church, the tower remains and is thus the oldest part of Fole Church, dating from ca. 1200. The Romanesque church was gradually replaced with the current, more Gothic church. During the middle of the 13th century, the choir and about half of the nave were rebuilt, and a few decades later, the rest of the nave. The rebuilt church was inaugurated in ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Fole, Sweden

Bäl Church

The current Bäl church was built during the first half of the 13th century and replaced an earlier stone church on the same site, fragments of which still remain in the wall between the choir and nave. Of the presently visible church, the choir is the oldest part, with the nave and tower being built successively. Paintings were added in the 13th century through 15th centuries. For some reason, the tower was never finishe ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Bäl, Sweden

Hörsne Church

The first stone church in Hörsne was built in Romanesque style during the 12th century. The oldest part of present church is the tower dating from the first half of the 13th century. The rest of the Romanesque church was eventually pulled down and replaced with a Gothic main building. Thus the choir and the vestry are from the end of the 13th century, while the nave was built during the early 14th century. When the nave ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hörsne-Bara, Sweden

Ganthem Church

Ganthem church is a well-preserved Romanesque church, finished in the middle of the 13th century. The choir with its apse is the oldest part, dating from the late 12th century. The nave is slightly later, from the beginning of the 13th century while the tower is the most recent addition. Apart from an enlargement of the windows made in the 19th century, and the addition of a sacristy in the 1930s, the church has remained ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ganthem, Sweden

Händene Church

Händene Church was built in Romanesque style in the 12th century. A major renovation and extension took place in the 17th century. After all renovations, only the tower remains unchanged since the Middle Ages. The baptismal font dates from the Middle Ages. The altarpiece  is carved in the 13th century.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Skara, 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.