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

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.