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

Königstein Fortress

Königstein Fortress is located on the left bank of the River Elbe. It is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe. The 9.5 hectare rock plateau rises 240 metres above the Elbe and has over 50 buildings, some over 400 years old, that bear witness to the military and civilian life in the fortress. The rampart run of the fortress is 1,800 metres long with walls up to 42 metres high and steep sandstone faces. In the centre of the site is a 152.5 metre deep well, which is the deepest in Saxony and second deepest well in Europe.

The fortress, which for centuries was used as a state prison, is still intact and is now one of Saxony's foremost tourist attractions, with 700,000 visitors per year.

By far the oldest written record of a castle on the Königstein is found in a deed by King Wenceslas I of Bohemia dating to the year 1233. It is probable that there had been a stone castle on the Königstein as early as the 12th century. The oldest surviving structure today is the castle chapel built at the turn of the 13th century. In the years 1563 to 1569 the 152.5 metre deep well was bored into the rock within the castle - until that point the garrison of the Königstein had to obtain water from cisterns and by collecting rainwater.

Between 1589 and 1591/97 Prince-Elector Christian I of Saxony and his successor had the castle developed into the strongest fortification in Saxony. The hill was now surrounded with high walls. Buildings were erected, including the Gatehouse (Torhaus), the Streichwehr, the Old Barracks (Alte Kaserne), the Christiansburg (Friedrichsburg) and the Old Armoury (Altes Zeughaus). The second construction period followed from 1619 to 1681, during which the John George Bastion was built. The third construction period is seen as the time from 1694 to 1756, which included the expansion of the Old Barracks. From 1722 to 1725, at the behest of August the Strong, coopers under Böttger built the enormous Königstein Wine Barrel, the greatest wine barrel in the world, in the cellar of the Magdalenenburg which had a capacity of 249,838 litres. It cost 8,230 thalers, 18 groschen and 9 pfennigs. The butt, which was once completely filled with country wine from the Meißen vineyards, had to be removed again in 1818 due to its poor condition. Because of Böttger, Königstein Fortress is also the site where European porcelain started.

Even after the expansion during those periods of time there continued to be modifications and additions on the extensive plateau. The Treasury (Schatzhaus) was built from 1854 to 1855. After the fortress had been incorporated in 1871 into the fortification system of the new German Empire, battery ramparts were constructed from 1870 to 1895 with eight firing points, that were to have provided all-round defence for the fortress in case of an attack that, in the event, never came. This was at this time that the last major building work was done on the fortress.

Because Königstein Fortress was regarded as unconquerable, the Saxon monarchs retreated to it from Wittenberg and later Dresden during times of crisis and also deposited the state treasure and many works of art from the famous Zwinger here; it was also used as a country retreat due to its lovely surroundings.

The fortress played an important role in the History of Saxony, albeit less as a result of military action. The Saxon Dukes and Prince-Electors used the fortress primarily as a secure refuge during times of war, as a hunting lodge and maison de plaisance, but also as a dreaded state prison. Its actual military significance was rather marginal.

Since 1955 the fortress has been an open-air, military history museum of high touristic value.