Medieval churches in Sweden

Litslena Church

Litslena church was completed in the 1100s and consisted of a rectangular nave, sacristy and porch. The present exterior date mainly from the 14th century. The current porch was added in the 1400s. The mural paintings, made around 1470 by unknown master, are well-preserved (particurarly original colours). The fine altar was carved in Lübeck around 1480. The font dates from the 1100s.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ekolsund, Sweden

Väversunda Church

The Romanesque Väversunda church date from the 12th century. It is decorated with murals made in the 13th and 17th centuries. The triumph crucifix is a replica of original, which is moved to the Stockholm Historical Museum. It is unique in Sweden and reminds of one in Lucca Church in San Marino.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Borghamn, Sweden

Bottna Church

Bottna Church dates from the 12th century when the sea level was much higher, possibly reaching the foot of the hill on which the church stands. The church retains the character of the Middle Ages when entrances were on the southern long wall. The door was moved, but the doorway remains, where there is a carved stone relief.The walls surrounding the basilica and parts of the chancel are original. Additions were made to th ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Dingle, Sweden

St. Mary's Church

St. Mary"s Church was built in the 12th century and it was enlarged a century later. The bell tower was added in Late Middle Ages and the church has been restored and rebuilt several times. The are eight medieval stone sculptures in the facade. The baptismal font is as old as the building itself. The Renaissance style pulpit dates from the 1600s.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Åhus, 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

Krokstad Church

Krokstad Church building time is unknown but it is first time mentioned in 1391. It was enlarged in 1702 and again in 1863. The tower was erected in 1810. The octagonal wooden font dates from the 1600s. The small bell is casted in 1614 and the big one in 1844.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Hedekas, 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

Ödeby Church

Öbeby Church was entirely reconstructed in 1680 by Magnus Gabriel de la Gardie. The tower date from the original church built in the 13th century. Ödeby Church is richly decorated, probably by the workshop of Albertus Pictor in the 1470s. The altar is a significant attraction, made in Mechelen, Belgium, in the beginning of the 15th century. The pulpit date from 1681.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Glanshammar, 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

Lannaskede Old Church

The old church of Lannaskede is one of Sweden's oldest Romanesque churches. It was built in 1150. Inside the church there is an organ that is the country's oldest working organ. Like other organs from the 16th and 17th centuries, it has a carillon. The mural paintings dating back to the 12th century are also well-preserved.
Founded: 1150 | Location: Vetlanda, 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

Ytterlännäs Old Church

The Old Church of Ytterlännäs dates from the early 13th century, retaining the original walls and the Romanesque outer door with its iron ornament around the keyhole, and a lion"s head from c. 800 from the area of Byzantine cultural influence around Constantinople. In the 15th century a vestry and a "weapon-house" (porch) were added, the choir was extended to make it as wide as the rest of the ch ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Kramfors, Sweden

St Ibb's Old Church

St Ibb's Church is located at the top of a hill in the churchyard. The oldest parts date back to the 13th century. It was enlarged in the early 1400s and vaulting was added later in the same century. The tower was damaged in wars between Sweden and Denmark and demolished in 1726. The font dates from the 13th century and is made of Norwegian stone. The altarpiece has been painted by Tobias Gemperlin before 1578 and donated ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Sankt Ibb, 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

St. Lawrence's Church

St. Lawrence"s Church has a long and complicated history that goes back to sometime around the end of the 13th century. It is one of few medieval churches in Östergötland built entirely in brick, a circumstance which may be connected to there being a large number of German merchants active in Söderköping at the time, and it remains a fine Swedish example of Brick Gothic. The original church had th ...
Founded: c. 1300 | Location: Söderköping, 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

Elinghem Church Ruins

Elinghem church was built in the 13th century and probably abandoned in the early 17th century. The altar with piscina and baptismal font still remain.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hangvar, 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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Castle de Haar

Castle de Haar is the largest and most fairytale-like castle in the Netherlands. The current buildings, all built upon the original castle, date from 1892 and are the work of Dutch architect P.J.H. Cuypers, in a Neo-Gothic restoration project funded by the Rothschild family.

The oldest historical record of a building at the location of the current castle dates to 1391. In that year, the family De Haar received the castle and the surrounding lands as fiefdom from Hendrik van Woerden. The castle remained in the ownership of the De Haar family until 1440, when the last male heir died childless. The castle then passed to the Van Zuylen family. In 1482, the castle was burned down and the walls were torn down, except for the parts that did not have a military function. These parts probably were incorporated into the castle when it was rebuilt during the early 16th century. The castle is mentioned in an inventory of the possessions of Steven van Zuylen from 1506, and again in a list of fiefdoms in the province Utrecht from 1536. The oldest image of the castle dates to 1554 and shows that the castle had been largely rebuilt by then. After 1641, when Johan van Zuylen van der Haar died childless, the castle seems to have gradually fallen into ruins. The castle escaped from total destruction by the French during the Rampjaar 1672.

In 1801 the last catholic van Zuylen in the Netherlands, the bachelor Anton-Martinus van Zuylen van Nijevelt (1708-1801) bequeathed the property to his cousin Jean-Jacques van Zuylen van Nyevelt (1752-1846) of the catholic branch in the Southern Netherlands. In 1890, De Haar was inherited by Jean-Jacques' grandson Etienne Gustave Frédéric Baron van Zuylen van Nyevelt van de Haar (1860-1934), who married Baroness Hélène de Rothschild. They contracted architect Pierre Cuypers in 1892 to rebuild the ruinous castle, which took 15 years.

In 1887, the inheritor of the castle-ruins, Etienne van Zuylen van Nijevelt, married Hélène de Rothschild, of theRothschild family. Fully financed by Hélène's family, the Rothschilds, the couple set about rebuilding the castle from its ruins. For the restoration of the castle, the famous architect Pierre Cuypers was hired. He would be working on this project for 20 years (from 1892 to 1912). The castle has 200 rooms and 30 bathrooms, of which only a small number on the ground floor have been opened to be viewed by the public. In the hall, Cuypers has placed a statue with his own image in a corner of the gallery on the first floor.

The castle was equipped by Cuypers with the most modern gadgets, such as electrical lighting with its own generator, and central heating by way of steam. This installation is internationally recognized as an industrial monument. The kitchen was for that period also very modern and still has a large collection of copper pots and pans and an enormous furnace of approximately 6 metres long, which is heated with peat or coals. The tiles in the kitchen are decorated with the coats of arms of the families De Haar and Van Zuylen, which were for this purpose especially baked in Franeker. Cuypers marked out the difference between the old walls and the new bricks, by using a different kind of brick for the new walls. For the interior Cuypers made a lot of use of cast iron.

In the castle one can see many details which reminds one of the family De Rothschild, such as the David stars on the balconies of the knight's hall, the motto of the family on the hearth in the knight's hall (A majoribus et virtute) and the coat of arms of the family right underneath on the hearth in the library.

The interior of the castle is decorated with richly ornamented woodcarving, which reminds one of the interior of a Roman Catholic church. This carving was made in the workshop of Cuypers in Roermond. The place where later also the interiors of many Roman Catholic churches were made, designed by Cuypers. Cuypers even designed the tableware. The interior is also furnished with many works of the Rothschild collections, including beautiful old porcelain from Japan and China, and several old Flemish tapestries and paintings with religious illustrations. A showpiece is a carrier coach of the woman of a Shogun from Japan. There is only one more left in the world, which stands in a museum in Tokyo. Many Japanese tourists come to De Haar to admire exactly this coach, which was donated from the Rothschilds collections.

Surrounding the castle there is a park, designed by Hendrik Copijn, for which Van Zuylen ordered 7000 fully grown trees. Because these could not be transported through the city of Utrecht, Van Zuylen bought a house and tore it down. The park contains many waterworks and a formal garden which reminds one of the French gardens of Versailles. During the Second World War many of the gardens were lost, because the wood was used to light fires, and the soil was used to grow vegetables upon. At this time, the gardens are restored in their old splendor.

For the decoration of the park, the village Haarzuilens, except for the town church, was broken down. The inhabitants were moved to a place a kilometer further up, where a new Haarzuilens arose, where they lived as tenants of the lord of the castle. This new village was also built in a pseudo-medieval style, including a rural village green. The buildings were for the most part designed by Cuypers and his son Joseph Cuypers.