Medieval churches in Sweden

Värna Church

The present church in Värna was constructed in the 1500s of stone and brick. At first the church had a south entrance, but it has always had the same nave. The belfry was erected in 1860.The altarpiece with its wood sculptures was made in Germany in the mid-1400s. The pulpit is made of wood and its framework is most likely from the 1600s. Beautiful mural paintings were made in 1728 by Anders Wikström.
Founded: ca. 1500 | Location: Linköping, Sweden

Munka Ljungby Church

Munka Ljungby Church was probably built in the 12th Century by the monks of Herrevadkloster, who owned large tracts of land, including parts of Munka Ljungby, the name meaning Ljungby of the monks. The transepts date from the 1860s. The altarpiece is a copy of a painting by the 17th century artist Rubens.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ängelholm, Sweden

Hedemora Church

Hedemora Church was founded in the 12th or 13th century and is the oldest surviving building in the town. The church has a font that is believed to be as old as the church. It also possesses a crucifix that would have been used in processions before the Reformation, which is believed to date from the same period. The pulpit is a beautiful Baroque work, from the early eighteenth century, and well worth seeing.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hedemora, Sweden

Bollnäs Church

Bollnäs church was originally built in the 14th and 15th centuries. One opening is known to have taken place November 3, 1468, probably concerning the church tower. Later alterations include the addition of the north and south transepts, built in 1753-1755. The church holds a larger collection of wooden medieval sculptures than any other parish church in the Nordic countries. Three of the altarpieces are major works ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Bollnäs, Sweden

Vadstena Abbey

The Abbey of Our Lady and of St. Bridget, more commonly referred to as Vadstena Abbey, was the motherhouse of the Bridgettine Order. The abbey started on one of the farms donated to it by the king, but the town of Vadstena grew up around it. The abbey was founded in 1346 by Saint Bridget with the assistance of King Magnus IV of Sweden and his Queen Blanche of Namur, who made a will donating ten farms to the abbey founded ...
Founded: 1346 | Location: Vadstena, Sweden

Suntak Church

Suntak is the only parish in Tidaholm that has two churches in use. The old church in Suntak is of rare character with its Romance architecture from the late 12th century. Inside the church there are remains of the wall paintings made during the Middle Ages of lime. One of the oldest piece of furniture in Sweden was found in the old church in Suntak, a bishops-bench from late Middle Ages. The piece of furniture with it i ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Tidaholm, Sweden

Löderup Church

The oldest parts of Löderup Church date from the 12th century. The defensive tower and vaulting were probably added in the 15th century. The major restoration was done in 1860s. The oldest artefact in the church is the font which was made around 1160. The pulpit date from 1604.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ystad, Sweden

Väne-Åsaka Church

The oldest parts of Väne-Åsaka Church date probably from the 1100s. The bell tower was added in 1836. The oldest inventory is a font dating probably from the 13th century. The pulpit was made in 1720 and altar in 1735.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Trollhättan, Sweden

Fleringe Church

Fleringe Church dates from the 13th century, and the nave and choir are the oldest parts. Somewhat later during the same century the tower was added. The church has not been substantially altered since, but suffered damage in a heavy fire in 1676. The church is located in a cemetery surrounded by a low wall in which a remaining medieval lychgate still sits. Outside, the church stables still stand, which is uncommon. The ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Fleringe, Sweden

Flen Church

The oldest parts of Flen Church date from the 13th century. The choir was added in the 17th century, probably in 1664 and the new sacristy in 1746. Baptismal font is the oldest item in Flen church, dating from the 12th century. There are also few other medieval artefacts, like crucifix from the 14th century. The pulpit was donated by Brita Ribbing-Rosenhane in 1664 and it was originally painted in black and white. The pr ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Flen, Sweden

Ekeby Church

The oldest part of Ekeby Church is the Romanesque tower, dating from the end of the 12th century. The nave and choir were built around a century later in Gothic style. The tower was also heightened to its present height at the end of the 13th century. Most notable in the exterior of the church are the two southern portals, which are richly decorated with stone carvings. These were originally painted, and fragments of co ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ekeby, Sweden

Rimbo Church

Rimbo Church was built in the late 1400s. It is well-known for its finely mural paintings made around the year 1500. There is also a font (13th century) and crucifix (c. 1275) dating from the earlier church.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Rimbo, Sweden

Stora Herrestad Church

Stora Herrestad Church was built in the first half of 12th century to the Romanesque style. It has been enlarged and the tower added later. The baptismal font was carved of sandstone and dates from the early 1200s.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ystad, 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

Barsebäck Church

The nave of Barsebäck Church was built in the 1100s and the tower in 1300s. The church was enlarged in the 15th century. The baptismal font and iron parts of the door date from the original church. The pulpit was probably made in 1637.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Barsebäck, 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

Västergarn Church

The building of Västergarn Church was started around 1250, and it comprises no more than a chancel. Economic troubles put a stop to the building of the rest of the church. There is also a foundation of another church and the remains of a medieval defence tower.
Founded: ca.1250 | Location: Gotland, Sweden

Säby Church

Säby Church was built around the year 1200 and it was enlarged probably in the 15th century, 1692 and 1746. The medieval frescos made by local master Amund are worth seeing. The pulpit was erected in 1653.
Founded: ca.1200 | Location: Tranås, Sweden

Boge Church

Boge Church chancel was built in the 13th century and the tower was erected later during the same century. It collapsed in a strom in 1858 and was rebuilt between 1867-1892. The limestone font was made around 1250, pulpit in 1727 and altar screen in 1750.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Slite, Sweden

Backen Church

Backenkyrkan or Backen Church is the oldest church in Umeå. There was a wooden church probably already in the 13th century. In the late 1400s the archbishop of Uppsala ordered to replace it with a stone church. The current church was built between 1501-1508. Backenkyrkan was damaged badly by fire in 1893 and again in 1986, when the wooden interior was completely destroyed. The church was restored and reinaugurated in 199 ...
Founded: 1501-1508 | Location: Umeå, 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.