Medieval churches in Sweden

Drothem Church

In contrast to near St. Lawrence"s Church, Drothem church was referred to as the 'peasant"s church' and used as a parish church by the rural population rather than the strictly urban. The present church was probably preceded by a wooden church on approximately the same site. Remains of a Franciscan monastery have been excavated in the close vicinity of Drothem church, leading scholars to believe that t ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Söderköping, Sweden

Salem Church

The church of Salem was built originally to the Romanescue style in the 1100s. There are some remains of fighting in the walls which refers the church has also had a defensive purpose. The porch was added in the 15th century and the church was mainly reconstructed in the 1600s. The interior was restored in the 19th century. The font date from the 12th century and crucifix was made about one hundred years later.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Botkyrka, Sweden

Havdhem Church

While the oldest parts of Havdhem Church have been identified as being from the first half of the 12th century, graves dating from the period of the arrival of Christendom to Gotland (11th century) have been discovered in the cemetery. The choir is the oldest part of the church itself. It shows resemblances with the churches of Garde and Källunge. The choir portal is however later, from the 13th century. The nave dates f ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Havdhem, Sweden

Husaby Church

Husaby Church is one of the most interesting historical sites in Sweden. The first stave church was built probably in the 10th century. Olof Skötkonung, the first Christian king of Sweden, is rumoured to have allowed himself to be baptised at a well by the church in 1008. Husaby was also the seat of bishop until 1150s. The present church was built in the early 1100s and influenced by German and English missionaries. Arc ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Götene, Sweden

Anderslöv Church

The Romanesque Anderslöv Church was built around 1100 and the first tower was added a century later. The current tower dates from the 1500s. The church was enlarged in 1767 and 1841. The major restoration had to be done in 1871 after the spire was destroyed by fire. The interior is decorated with murals made by so-called Snårestad school c. 1350. The pulpi has been carved by Jacob Kremberg in 1630.
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Anderslöv, Sweden

Lojsta Church

The Romanesque choir and nave of Lojsta Church were probably built in the mid-1200s. The tower was replaced with the present one in the 14th century. The baptismal font was made probably in the 12th century, stained glass in 13th century, wall paintings 13th –16th century. The pulpit date from the 1600s and it was repainted in 1749.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Hemse, Sweden

Linde Church

Linde Church is a homogeneous Romanesque church. Construction of the presently visible church started in the late 12th century and was finished in the early 13th century. A single, large Gothic window was inserted in the eastern wall in the 14th century. The external nave and choir portals are both decorated with Romanesque sculptures. Inside, the church is decorated with frescos. On the northern wall is a set of paintin ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Linde, Sweden

Botkyrka Church

According the legend the first wooden church of Botkyrka was completed in 1129 and it was built by Björn to his brother St. Bodvid. It was replaced by a Romanescue-style stone church in 1176. The present main nave originates from this church. The tower was added some decades later and the church was enlarged in the 14th and 15th centuries. The altar was made in Antwerpen in 1525. The sandstone epitaph date from the ...
Founded: 1176 | Location: Botkyrka, Sweden

Fide Church

Fide Church dates from the 13th century. Oldest are the nave and choir, while the tower was added slightly later. The roof lantern which gives the top of the tower its distinctive shape is however considerably later, from 1826. The church lies in an unusually well-preserved medieval cemetery which is surrounded by a low wall in which three medieval gates still sits. The building material of the church is sandstone. The e ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Fide, Sweden

Brännkyrka Church

Oldest parts of the Brännkyrka church was built in the 12th century. There are notes that there has been four serious fires in the church. It is assumed that the name Brännkyrka ('burnt church') was given after a fire around 1400, since it was named 'Vantör' before that time.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Spånga Church

The oldest part of the Spånga Church origins from the time period 1175-1200. Large reconstructions and enhancements took place during the 14th century and the 15th century. Baron Gustaf Bonde (1620-1667), owner of the nearby Hässelby castle, made considerable donations to the church. After his death a grave choir, drawn by the architect Nicodemus Tessin the Elder, was attached as a continuation of the church, i ...
Founded: 1175-1200 | Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Torsång Church

Torsång church is thought to be the oldest church in the Dalarna region, and still retains much of the appearance and character of a 13th century church. It has a separate belfry (erected in the 16th century) with bells that are several hundred years old. The church has a font made in the 13th century, about as old as the church itself. There is also a 15th century crucifix and the pulpit was carved in 1624.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Borlänge, Sweden

Alnö Old Church

The old church on Alnö is one of the oldest and best preserved in Medelpad region. It was built in the late 1100s. The church had two purposes, as well as place of worship but also as a defensive building. There are well-preserved mural paintings in star vaults (added in the 1500s). The triumph crucifix is also from the 1500s, made by Haaken Gulleson. The pulpit is from the 17th century.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Alnö, Sweden

St. Nicholas' Church

St. Nicholas' Church in Trelleborg was built around 1250. It was completely restored in 1881-1883 according the design of Helgo Zettervall. The font is the oldest inventory, dating probably from the 1300-1400s. The altarpiece was made of stone in the mid-1600s.
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Trelleborg, Sweden

Kräklingbo Church

The choir and its apse-like projection to the east are the oldest parts of Kräklingbo Church. This part of the church originally formed the nave and choir of an earlier church; an inscription mentions its inauguration in 1211. The present nave and sacristy were built around 1300, and thus incorporated these earlier elements. The east window in the apse-like projection dates from the reconstruction circa 1300. The two mai ...
Founded: 1211 | Location: Kräklingbo, Sweden

Träkumla Church

Träkumla stone church was preceded by a wooden church on the same site. The oldest part of the now visible church at Träkumla is the rectangular choir, which was built at the middle of the 13th century. The nave was added slightly later. The church was intended to have a tower; thick walls at the western end of the nave indicate that preparations were made for the erection of a tower, but it was never executed. The pres ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Träkumla, Sweden

Vall Church

Vall Church is a largely Romanesque church that dates from the 13th century. It was built in three phases. Oldest is the choir with the apse, and the nave, dating from the early part of the century. The tower was begun during the middle of the century and made higher at the end of the century. The church is a relatively well-preserved Romanesque building, with a tower that is unusually tall in comparison with similar chu ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Vall, Sweden

Anga Church

Anga church, built in the 1200s, is one of the smallest in Gotland. The interior is richly decorated by master Halvard. The altar date from the 14th century and triumph cruficix from the 15th century. The pulpi was made in the late 1600s. There is a runic inscription in the northern wall listing peasants, who worked in the construction.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Katthammarsvik, Sweden

Vickleby Church

The oldest parts of Vickleby church date from the mid-1100s. the tower, also built for defensive purposes, was completed around 1200. Vickleby church (as well as other churches nearby) were heavily damaged by Danish army in 1677. The eastern part and apsis were rebuilt in 1778. The interior date mainly from the 18th century, like the altar (1778) and pulpit (1763). The stone-made babtismal font was made for the original ...
Founded: ca. 1150 | Location: Färjestaden, Sweden

Torshälla Church

The present Torshälla Church building was originally erected in Romanesque style during the 12th century at the old heathen sacrificial place of Torsharg. Torshälla was granted city rights in 1317, making the old church insufficient for the growing population of the town. A newnave was added to the west, transforming the old nave into a choir. During the 15th century, the church tower, church porch and vaulted ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Torshälla, 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.