Medieval churches in Sweden

Skanör Church

The Romanescue-style St. Olaf’s Church in Skanör was built in the 13th century to the site of earlier church probably dating from the 1100s. It was reconstructed partially: the extension to west and the tower were made in the 14th century and the chancel was rebuilt in the 15th century. Skanör church is one of few churches in Scania with a crypt.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Skanör, Sweden

Torpa Church

The construction of Torpa church has been dated back to the end of the 12th century. What makes this church remarkable is that it is one of the few churches that appears to have been signed by its founder. On the original reliefs on the southern doorway there is runic writing that reads ”Odulf gjorde kyrkan” (Odulf built the church). The current chapel was originally a nave in the Roman church. The vault mural ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Varberg, Sweden

Hackås Church

Hackås Church was built in the 1100s and is probably the oldest in Norrland area. In 1770-1771 it was enlarged and the church got its present appearance. There are frescoes from the 13th century in apsis. The belfry was erected in 1752.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Hackås, Sweden

Dalhem Church

The nave and chancel of Dalhem Church were contructed in the early 1200s. It was enlarged some decades later by the workshop of master Egypticus. Murals were restored in the early 20th century. There is a beautiful tombstone in the northern wall from the 1100s.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Dalhem, Sweden

Löt Church

The sacristy is the oldest part of the Löt Church. It was originally built for the previous wooden church in the 1100s. The present nave and apsis were added in the late 1200s and the church was enlarged in the late 1400s. One of the key attractions is the collection of frescoes on the walls. These were painted by the master Albertus Pictor in the 15th century. The pulpit date from 1657. The separate bell tower was e ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Grillby, Sweden

Garde Church

Garde Church was built originally in the mid-1100s. The apsis was added in the 14th century. The Gothic-style church is a good sample of medieval church building tradition in Sweden. The font and crucifix date from the first church, both were made in the 1100s. Pre-Christian picture stones, made between 400-1100 AD, have been found from Garde church during the restoration.
Founded: ca. 1150 | Location: Garde, Sweden

Hög Church

Hög Church was originally built around the year 1190. Later it was enlarged to west and between 1702-1703 also the east. There are several medieval wooden sculptures in the church, for example a triptych made in 1471. The pulpit was moved to Hög Church in 1671.
Founded: c. 1190 | Location: Hudiksvall, Sweden

Kungslena Church

Kungslena church was probably built in the late 1100s or before 1208 according to tradition by King Erik XI to commemorate the battle of Lena. It is known for its unusual appearance, with three turret towers rising above the roof. The wall paintings were made in 1749 by Johannes Risberg and is one reason why the church is a famous tourist attraction. The font has been dated to 1170, and it is believed the church is older ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Tidaholm, Sweden

Södra Ving Church

The oldest parts of Södra Ving date from the 12th century. It is known of its remarkable stone sculptures and paintings from three different periods of the Middle Ages. The Gothic mural paintings in middle nave date from the 1400s. There are also two runestones in the churchyard.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Hökerum, 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

Mörbylånga Church

The oldest parts of Mörbylånga Church were built in the 13th century. For instance the decorations over the west tower portal have been dated to this period. The church was enlarged and reconstructed in the beginning of 19th century according the design of Johan Petterson. The medieval tower was restored in 1872. The church possesses a triumphal crucifix, which would have been used in procession during medieva ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Mörbylånga, Sweden

Asige Church

Asige church was probably built during the 12th century but has been extended and rebuilt until 1890. The interior is characterized by Neoclassicism. The triumph crucifix date from the 1200s, the rest of interior is date from the 19th century.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Slöinge, Sweden

Säve Church

The Säve Church was erected in the early 13th century. It was first known as St. Olaf Church, after the saintly king Olaf II of Norway. The nave has a barrel vault, built in 1696. In 1704, the ceiling was covered with paintings by German artist Christian von Schönfeldt. In 1729, a cupola was built over the choir, painted by Johan Ross. The paintings depict scenes from both the New and the Old Testament. The porc ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Göteborg, 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

Drotten Church Ruins

Drotten Church was built around 1050 and it was the second largest church in Lund. The building was about 50m long and probably made for bishop’s church. Archaeologists have also found evidences of even earlier stave church on the site, built probably in the 990 by Danish King Svend Tveskæg. Drotten Church was rebuilt several times and since 1150 it functioned as a parish church and later an abbey church. The ...
Founded: ca. 1050 | Location: Lund, 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

Gillstad Church

Gillstad Church dates from the 12th century, but the current exterior is mainly from the 1700s; in 1702 part of the wall collapsed and the church was rebuilt.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Gillstad, Sweden

Våmb Church

Våmb Church was built during the first half of 12th century except the tower, which was added some decades later. According to legend, the church is built by St. Helena of Skövde at her farm in Våmb. It was also largely built because of generous donations from her. The major restoration was made in the late 1800s and between 1944-1945. The interior is well-preserved and consists of several medieval sculp ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Skövde, Sweden

Herrestad Church

Herrestad Church is one of the oldest existing churches in Sweden. According the Radiocarbon dating of wooden parts the construction was started in 1112. Archaeologists have also found nearby an early Christian tomb from the 1000s. It is quite probable there has been a wooden church before the stone church was built. Herrestad church was made of limestone in early Romanesque style. The interior includes a medieval tripty ...
Founded: ca. 1112 | Location: Vadstena, Sweden

Ramdala Church

The Romanesque Ramdala Church, built in the mid-1200s, is the only survived medieval church in East Blekinge. It had originally also a defensive purpose; the church had probably two towers with loopholes. The another tower was demolished in th 16th century. The most significant detail Ramdala church is a decorated and gilded pulpit, which is a gift from Kristian IV of Denmark (1637). The altarpiece dates from 1624.
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Ramdala, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Beersel Castle

The moated castle at Beersel is one of the few exceptionally well-preserved examples of medieval fortifications in Belgium. It remains pretty much as it must have appeared in the 15th century. Remarkably, it was never converted into a fortified mansion. A visitor is able to experience at first-hand how it must have felt to live in a heavily fortified castle in the Middle Ages.

The castle was built in around 1420 as a means of defence on the outer reaches of Brussels. The tall, dense walls and towers were intended to hold any besiegers at bay. The moat and the marshy ground along its eastern, southern and western edges made any attack a formidable proposition. For that reason, any attackers would have chosen its weaker northern defences where the castle adjoins higher lying ground. But the castle was only taken and destroyed on one occasion in 1489, by the inhabitants of Brussels who were in rebellion against Maximilian of Austria.

After being stormed and plundered by the rebels it was partially rebuilt. The pointed roofs and stepped gables are features which have survived this period. The reconstruction explains why two periods can be identified in the fabric of the edifice, particularly on the outside.

The red Brabant sandstone surrounds of the embrasures, now more or less all bricked up, are characteristic of the 15th century. The other embrasures, edged with white sandstone, date from the end of the 15th century. They were intended for setting up the artillery fire. The merlons too are in white sandstone. The year 1617 can be clearly seen in the foundation support on the first tower. This refers to restorations carried out at the time by the Arenberg family.

Nowadays, the castle is dominated by three massive towers. The means of defence follow the classic pattern: a wide, deep moat surrounding the castle, a drawbridge, merlons on the towers, embrasures in the walls and in the towers, at more or less regular intervals, and machiolations. Circular, projecting towers ensured that attacks from the side could be thwarted. If the enemy were to penetrate the outer wall, each tower could be defended from embrasures facing onto the inner courtyard.

The second and third towers are flanked by watchtowers from which shots could be fired directly below. Between the second and third tower are two openings in the walkway on the wall. It is not clear what these were used for. Were these holes used for the disposing of rubbish, or escape routes. The windows on the exterior are narrow and low. All light entering comes from the interior. The few larger windows on the exterior date from a later period. It is most probable that the third tower - the highest - was used as a watchtower.