Medieval churches in Sweden

Hejde Church

Hejde Church is a medieval Lutheran church in Hejde on the island of Gotland. The church tower and the nave are the oldest parts of Hejde Church, dating from the middle of the 13th century. The choir is about a century later and replaced an earlier and smaller Romanesque choir. Plans to also enlarge the nave and tower were never executed. The sacristy dates from 1795. The church has two decorated entrance portals on the ...
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Hejde, Sweden

Saint Nicholas' Church

The oldest part of the church of Saint Nicholas is from the late 13th century, but the nave was built some decades later. In the 14th century, the church formed part of a Carmelite convent. The altarpiece and pulpit were made in 1620s.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Sölvesborg, 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

Granhult Church

Granhult Church, built around 1220, is the oldest surviving wooden building in Sweden and one of the greatest cultural treasures of the region. it was intended to be demolished in 1829, but due the resistance of the inhabitants it was left to stay. The church was returned to worship use in 1879. The interior dates mainly from the 17th and 18th centuries.The altarpiece was painted by Torbern Char in 1699. The walls are ri ...
Founded: 1220s | Location: Norrhult, Sweden

Strängnäs Cathedral

Strängnäs Cathedral is built mainly of bricks in the characteristic Scandinavian Brick Gothic style. The original church was built of wood, probably during the first decades of the 12th century, on a spot where pagan rituals used to take place and where the missionary Saint Eskil was killed during the mid 11th century. The wooden church was not rebuilt in stone and bricks until 1296, just after Strängnä ...
Founded: 1296-1334 | Location: Strängnäs, Sweden

Grötlingbo Church

Grötlingbo church was built in the early 1200s and it was sanctified to St. Luke the Evangelist in 1296. The present nave and apsis were added in the mid-1300s. The tower date from the first church. The pulpit, made in 1548, was originally situated in the Visby Cathedral and brought to Grötlingbo in 1699. The font and triumph crucifix date from the 13th century.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Grötlingbo, Sweden

Ekerö Church

The Romanescue-style church of Ekerö date from the late 12th century. It was enlarged in the 1300s and the tower was erected in the 15th century. The overpainted mural paintings were found in the restoration made in 1933. the altarpiece date from the 17th century. The oldest artefact in the church is a font dating from the 12th century. The interesting detail is a runic script in the tombstone under the pulpit. The ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ekerö, Sweden

Södra Sandby Church

The oldest parts of Södra Sandby Church date from the late 1100s. The greystone tower was added later in the Middle Ages. It was enlarged in 1797. The baptismal font, made of sandstone, have a cuppa dating from the 12th century. The triumph crucifix was carved in the late Middle Ages. The pulpit was made in 1847.
Founded: Late 12th century | Location: Södra Sandby, Sweden

Solna Church

The medieval church of Solna is a so-called round church. The oldest part of the church, the roundhouse, originates from the late 12th century, and was especially built for defense purposes. Attached to this round center is a weaponhouse (south), a rectangular choir to the east, and a rectangular nave to the west. North of the choir is the sacristy, and to the east an octagonal grave choir. There is a second grave choir o ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Båstad Church

The Church of Båstad, Saint Mary’s Church was constructed in the 15th century. The building started around the year 1450 and it was completed in the early 1500s. The inauguration was made in 1460. Båstad Church is a Romanesque church, and contains several wall paintings from various centuries; a madonna image; and a Danish altarpiece, among other things.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Båstad, Sweden

All Saints Church

All Saints (Alla Helgona) Church was built in the late 1200s, but during the Duke Karl"s time (1590-1618) it went through a radical transformation. At the restoration in 1909 the church received its small ridge turrets, which is a replica of the tower on Erik Dahlberg´s engravings of Nyköping. In 1665 the church was ravaged by fire. At the recent restoration in 1959-1960 were the pillars restored in to ori ...
Founded: 1590-1618 | Location: Nyköping, Sweden

Vellinge Church

Vellinge Church was probably built in the late 1100s in Romanesque style. In the 16th century the choir was enlarged and the tower was erected in 1790-1791. There are some preserved medieval frescoes in walls. The pulpit was carved in 1606 and altar dates from 1608.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Vellinge, Sweden

Mästerby Church

Mästerby Church dates largely from the 13th century. The nave, choir and apse were built first, at the beginning of the century. In the middle of the same century, the tower was also built. The nave was made higher about a century later, and at this time both the nave and choir received vaulted ceilings. The church has remained relatively unaltered since the end of the Middle Ages. Only the sacristy is significantly late ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Mästerby, Sweden

Frösö Church

Frösö church is one of Jämtland's major tourist attractions. It can be dated back to the twelfth or 12th century. The altarpiece and pulpit are both from the 18th century. The attractive and characteristic bell tower, which stands separately from the church, was built in the 18th century. A raging fire in 1898 left only the foundations remain, but all the interiors were rescued. Archaeological investigation ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Frösön, Sweden

Vårfrukyrkan

Vårfrukyrkan (Our Lady’s Church) was built in the 12th century in the same style as Sigtuna and Old Uppsala churches. The star vaulting and enlargement were completed in the 15th century. The wooden tower was added in 1839. There are remains medieval mural paintings as well as newer painted by C. W. Petterson in 1904.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Enköping, Sweden

Perstorp Church

Perstorp Church construction started in the late 1100s and completed in the beginning of 1200s. The original apse was demolished and the sacristy added in 1836. The church door, made of oak, dates from the 1400s. There pulpit was made in 1623 and renewed in 1741. The altar is believed to be made already in the 1500s.
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Perstorp, Sweden

Follingbo Church

The oldest parts of Follingbo Church are the nave and tower. They date from circa 1200 and together form an unusually accomplished example of Romanesque architecture on Gotland. Although lacking in ornamental sculpture, the tower and nave are well-proportioned and unusually professionally executed. The choir is later (late 13th century) and already Gothic in style, and also considered unusual for its kind. The choir repla ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Follingbo, Sweden

Stora Kopparberg Church

Stora Kopparberg Church was built in the late 1400s and it is the oldest building in Falun. The star-shaped arches are an interesting architectural detail. The church has also a high tower with a dramatic spire. The triumph crucifix, Madonna sculpture and pietá date from the 15th century. The pulpit was made in 1618.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Falun, Sweden

Vallentuna Church

The original Vallentuna church was built around 1190. The granite church consisted of a nave, choir and tower. The sacristy was added in the 13th century. The church was enlarged in the 15th century and brick vaults were constructed in 1763. The chapel of Klingspor family was built in the 17th century. Vallentuna church was badly damaged by fire in 1856. The church was restored and the exterior was strongly reshaped. The ...
Founded: c. 1190 | Location: Vallentuna, Sweden

Roma Church

The current Roma church was preceded by a considerably smaller, Romanesque church. Some fragments from this church have been re-used and incorporated in the façade of the later church. The still extant sacristy is also a remnant of this earlier church. The earlier church was torn down and successively replaced with Gothic style building between 1215 and 1255. Dendrochronological examinations have shown that the latest a ...
Founded: 1215-1255 | Location: Romakloster, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Reims Cathedral

Notre-Dame de Reims (Our Lady of Reims) is the seat of the Archdiocese of Reims, where the kings of France were crowned. The cathedral replaced an older church, destroyed by fire in 1211, that was built on the site of the basilica where Clovis was baptized by Saint Remi, bishop of Reims, in AD 496. That original structure had itself been erected on the site of some Roman baths. A major tourism destination, the cathedral receives about one million visitors annually.

History

Excavations have shown that the present building occupies roughly the same site as the original cathedral, founded c. 400 under the episcopacy of St Nicaise. That church was rebuilt during the Carolingian period and further extended in the 12th century. On 19 May 1051, King Henry I of France and Anne of Kiev were married in the cathedral.

On May 6, 1210 the cathedral was damaged by fire and reconstruction started shortly after, beginning at the eastern end. Documentary records show the acquisition of land to the west of the site in 1218, suggesting the new cathedral was substantially larger than its predecessors, the lengthening of the nave presumably being an adaptation to afford room for the crowds that attended the coronations. In 1233 a long-running dispute between the cathedral chapter and the townsfolk (regarding issues of taxation and legal jurisdiction) boiled over into open revolt. Several clerics were killed or injured during the resulting violence and the entire cathedral chapter fled the city, leaving it under an interdict (effectively banning all public worship and sacraments). Work on the new cathedral was suspended for three years, only resuming in 1236 after the clergy returned to the city and the interdict was lifted following mediation by the King and the Pope. Construction then continued more slowly. The area from the crossing eastwards was in use by 1241 but the nave was not roofed until 1299 (when the French King lifted the tax on lead used for that purpose). Work on the west facade took place in several phases, which is reflected in the very different styles of some of the sculptures. The upper parts of the facade were completed in the 14th century, but apparently following 13th century designs, giving Reims an unusual unity of style.

Unusually the names of the cathedral's original architects are known. A labyrinth built into floor of the nave at the time of construction or shortly after (similar to examples at Chartres and Amiens) included the names of four master masons (Jean d'Orbais, Jean-Le-Loup, Gaucher de Reims and Bernard de Soissons) and the number of years they worked there, though art historians still disagree over who was responsible for which parts of the building. The labyrinth itself was destroyed in 1779 but its details and inscriptions are known from 18th century drawings. The clear association here between a labyrinth and master masons adds weight to the argument that such patterns were an allusion to the emerging status of the architect (through their association with the mythical artificer Daedalus, who built the Labyrinth of King Minos). The cathedral also contains further evidence of the rising status of the architect in the tomb of Hugues Libergier (d. 1268, architect of the now-destroyed Reims church of St-Nicaise). Not only is he given the honor of an engraved slab; he is shown holding a miniature model of his church (an honor formerly reserved for noble donors) and wearing the academic garb befitting an intellectual.

The towers, 81 m tall, were originally designed to rise 120m. The south tower holds just two great bells; one of them, named “Charlotte” by Charles, Cardinal of Lorraine in 1570, weighs more than 10,000 kg.

During the Hundred Years' War the cathedral was under siege by the English from 1359 to 1360. After it fell the English held Reims and the Cathedral until 1429 when it was liberated by Joan of Arc which allowed the Dauphin Charles to be crowned king on 17 July 1429.

In 1875 the French National Assembly voted £80,000 for repairs of the façade and balustrades. The façade is the finest portion of the building, and one of the great masterpieces of the Middle Ages.

German shellfire during the opening engagements of the First World War on 20 September 1914 burned, damaged and destroyed important parts of the cathedral. Scaffolding around the north tower caught fire, spreading the blaze to all parts of the carpentry superstructure. The lead of the roofs melted and poured through the stone gargoyles, destroying in turn the bishop's palace. Images of the cathedral in ruins were used during the war as propaganda images by the French against the Germans and their deliberate destruction of buildings rich in national and cultural heritage. Restoration work began in 1919, under the direction of Henri Deneux, a native of Reims and chief architect of the Monuments Historiques; the cathedral was fully reopened in 1938, thanks in part to financial support from the Rockefellers, but work has been steadily going on since.

Exterior

The three portals are laden with statues and statuettes; among European cathedrals, only Chartres has more sculpted figures. The central portal, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, is surmounted by a rose window framed in an arch itself decorated with statuary, in place of the usual sculptured tympanum. The 'gallery of the kings' above shows the baptism of Clovis in the centre flanked by statues of his successors.

The facades of the transepts are also decorated with sculptures. That on the North has statues of bishops of Reims, a representation of the Last Judgment and a figure of Jesus (le Beau Dieu), while that on the south side has a modern rose window with the prophets and apostles. Fire destroyed the roof and the spires in 1481: of the four towers that flanked the transepts, nothing remains above the height of the roof. Above the choir rises an elegant lead-covered timber bell tower that is 18 m tall, reconstructed in the 15th century and in the 1920s.

Interior

The interior comprises a nave with aisles, transepts with aisles, a choir with double aisles, and an apse with ambulatory and radiating chapels. It has interesting stained glass ranging from the 13th to the 20th century. The rose window over the main portal and the gallery beneath are of rare magnificence.

The cathedral possesses fine tapestries. Of these the most important series is that presented by Robert de Lenoncourt, archbishop under François I (1515-1547), representing the life of the Virgin. They are now to be seen in the former bishop's palace, the Palace of Tau. The north transept contains a fine organ in a flamboyant Gothic case. The choir clock is ornamented with curious mechanical figures. Marc Chagall designed the stained glass installed in 1974 in the axis of the apse.

The treasury, kept in the Palace of Tau, includes many precious objects, among which is the Sainte Ampoule, or holy flask, the successor of the ancient one that contained the oil with which French kings were anointed, which was broken during the French Revolution, a fragment of which the present Ampoule contains.

Notre-Dame de Reims cathedral, the former Abbey of Saint-Remi, and the Palace of Tau were added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1991.