Medieval churches in Sweden

Bodarp Church

Bodard Church was originally built in Romanesque style in the late 1100s or early 1200s. The tower and vaults were added in 1400s. The church was enlarged in 1864 according the design of Carl Georg Brunius. The altar dates from the 1500s, pulpit and baptismal font from 1640.
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Trelleborg, Sweden

Öja Church

The chancel and apsis of Öja Church were built in the early 13th century. The high tower, used as a landmark for seafarers, was completed in the middle 1300’s by building master Egypticus. The mural paintings, made in different centuries, are worth seeing. The most beautiful artefact in the church is a cross made around 1275.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Gotland, Sweden

Holy Cross Priory

Holy Cross Abbey was an important Augustinian monastery located in Skåne's old capital, Dalby. It’s history began as a Viking Age royal manor. The buildings along with a granite chapel were donated for the establishment of a Benedictine monastery during the reign of King Sweyn II of Denmark, who gifted the old manor on which the abbey was to be built and two and a half other rented properties to fund its const ...
Founded: 1060 | Location: Dalby, Sweden

Grundsunda Church

The stone church of Grundsunda was probably built in the 14th century. Arches were added later in the Middle Ages as well as the porch and sacristy. Walls and the roof were decorated with murals around 1600, but them were overpainted in the 19th century. The wooden belfry was erected in 1794. The unique font dates from the 17th century and is made of single piece of wood. The pulpit was carved by Tomas Kiempe in the 1720s ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Husum, Sweden

Floda Church

Floda church well known for its architecture and decorations. The original church was built in the 12th century, but the current brick church was built over it in 1886-1888. The rich mural paintings were made in 1480s by Albertus Pictor and are very well-preserved. The original colours are still visible due walls have never been whitewashed or overpainted as usually in old churches. There is a Baroque chapel of field mar ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Floda, Sweden

Algutsrum Church

The church of Algutstrum was originally built in the 12th century. The original tower was incorporated into the present neo-classical style church built in 1822. The most significant artefact in the church is a altarpiece made in Northern Germany in 1475. Also the font originate from Middle Ages. The Rococo-style pulpit was made in 1775 by Jonas Berggren. The Algutsrum Church stands at the highest point on Öland.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Färjestaden, Öland, Sweden

St. Nicholas' Church

St. Nicholas’ Church (Sankt Nicolai kyrka) date from the 12th century and is the oldest in the Arborga area. It has been rebuilt several times. Originally single-nave church was extended to three-nave already in the 1200’s. The richly decorated altar is made in Lübeck in 1510. The pulpit date from 1788.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Arboga, Sweden

Gothem Church

Gothem church is one of the biggest in Gotland. The oldest part, apsis and sacristy date from the 1200s. The tower was completed around 1350. It was damaged by lightning in the 19th century and restored. The church bell is the largest medieval one in Gotland, made in 1374. The interior is decorated with mural paintings dating from the 14th century. There are remains of the older church outside and also a defence tower bu ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Gothem, Sweden

Vallkärra Church

Vallkärra Church was built in the 1100s in Romanesque style. Today only the choir remains of the original church, it was largely restored and rebuilt in 1844-1845.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Lund, 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

Sollentuna Church

Sollentuna Church originates from the late 1100s but it has been restored and enlarged several times. The current appearance dates from the 1600s. In 1560 remnants of Gustav Vasa and his two wives were held in Sollentuna church on the way to funeral in Uppsala Cathedral. The interior is decorated with murals by famous Albertus Pictor school in the late 1400s. The thurible dates from the 1200s and font was made in Gotland ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Sollentuna, Sweden

Barlingbo Church

The current Barlingbo Church was erected between 1225-1250 but the foundation of an older church building has been found from the nave floor. The large rosette window in west wall is an unique detail. The interior is decorated with frescoes made in the 13th and 14th century. The font from the 1100s is also beautifully carved. The pulpit dates back to 1673 and sandstone-made altar screen to 1683.
Founded: 1225-1250 | Location: Visby, Sweden

Vamlingbo Church

In the Medieval Period, Vamlingbo was the largest parish in the south of Gotland. A stone church was built here at a very early date. Remains of the original church can still be seen by way of sculptures that have been incorporated in the south wall of the nave of the new church. The baptismal font is also from the original church. The present church was built of sandstone in the 13th century. The steeple was struck by l ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Burgsvik, Sweden

Vårdsberg Church

Vårdsberg church was built originally a round church. It is located on the river banks and in ancient times it was able to sail there from the Baltic sea. The church might have been built also for the stronghold against the pagan Baltic people, who made raids to Sweden. In the 13th century church was enlarged with a chancel and two transepts. The western tower dates from 1774. Mural paintings date from the 1400s and ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Vårdsberg, Sweden

Vaksala Church

The grey-stone church of Vaksala was built in the 12th century. Two chapels were added in the 15th century. The altar, biggest in the Uppland diocese, was made in Antwerpen around the year 1500. The pulpit was carved in 1795.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Uppsala, Sweden

Nydala Abbey

Nydala Abbey was a medieval Cistercian monastery. Nydala (from Swedish ny, meaning new, and dal, meaning valley) was called Sancta Maria de Nova Valle or just Nova Vallis in Latin. It was founded together with Alvastra Abbey in 1147 as the first cistercian monasteries in Sweden. King Gustavus Vasa appropriated the abbey in the 1520s, and the D ...
Founded: 1147 | Location: Vrigstad, Sweden

Sanda Church

The oldest part of the church is the tower, dating from the middle of the 13th century. The nave is from the beginning of the 14th century, while the choir dates from the middle of the same century. There was an earlier church on the same spot, elements of which have been incorporated as building material in the presently visible church. The church is richly decorated inside with frescos dating from the Middle Ages. They ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Sanda, Sweden

Lärbro Church

Lärbro Church was probably built between 1260-1280. The unusual octagonal steeple was erected in the 1300s. The interior date made mainly from the times after Reformation. The murals in the church vaults are originals. In the chancel floor, by the chancel portal, there is a tombstone in memory of Nicolaus (Nils) Taksten from 1274. To the west of church is a defence tower, which dates from the 12th century. I ...
Founded: 1260-1280 | Location: Lärbro, Sweden

Kalix Church

Kalix Church is the northernmost medieval church in Sweden. It dates from the 15th century (first mentioned in 1472). Several items of medieval inventory are preserved including the font, altarpiece and two sculptures. The pulpit, a Baroque work, is from 1674, and is among the oldest to be found in the north of Sweden. The church has a separate wooden belfry, which was made in 1731. The church has been sacked by Russian t ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Kalix, Sweden

Järrestad Church

The nave, chancel and apse of Järrestad Church dates from the 12th century. It was enlarged and the tower was added in the 15th century. Since 1500s the exterior is survived without any modifications. The pulpit dates from 1635.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Simrishamn, 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.