Medieval churches in Sweden

När Church

The oldest part of the presently visible church at När is the tower, erected at the middle of the 13th century. Originally, it was designed to be able to function as a defensive tower, with arrowslits still visible on the first floor. The present nave and choir of the church were added to the tower around the year 1300. Of an earlier, Romanesque church on the same site no traces remain today. Externally, the church has ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: När, Sweden

Tensta Church

The impressive church of Tensta is one of the oldest brick churches in Uppland. The oldest parts originate from the late 13th century. The sacristy and porch were built during the next century and arches between 1420-30. There are many fine medieval frescoes in the church. These are signed by the painter Johannes Rosenrod in 1437. They depict various religious themes including scenes from the life of St. Birgitta. The al ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Uppsala, Sweden

Svärdsjö Church

Oldest parts of the Svärdsjö Church date from the 1300s and the latest restoration was made in 1873. The church was substantially extended in the 17th and 18th centuries. A particular attraction are the ceiling frescoes, which were painted in the late 15th century. The baptismal font date from from the 13th and triumph crucifix from 16th century.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Svärdsjö, Sweden

Sundre Church

Sundre Church was originally built as the church for a large farmstead. This first church was wooden, and built during the early 12th century. A few painted remains of the church have been preserved at the Museum of Gotland in Visby. They were painted by a Russian artist and the scene depicts the Last Judgement. It has been speculated whether the remains were originally parts of an iconostasis, given the Russian origin of ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Burgsvik, Sweden

Häverö Church

Häverö Church was built around the year 1300. The mural paintings in vaults date from 1470. The belfry, built in the style of Norwegian Stave churches, date from the 16th century and is one the oldest in Sweden. The magnificent altar was made in Antwerpen in the early 16th century.
Founded: ca. 1300 | Location: Norrtälje, Sweden

Bromma Church

Bromma Church was built in the late 1100s. The tower and vaulting were constructed in the 1400s. The church was partially reconstructed in 1852. Also well-preserved mural paintings were found and restored then. The altarpiece was made between 1564-1627.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ystad, Sweden

Veberöd Church

Veberöd church was built either in the late 1100s or in the early 1200s and it consisted of nave, choir and apsis. The major restoration was made in the 19th  century. The tower was erected in 1848. The pulpit is made in 1595 and also the altar dates from the 16th century. The bells were casted in 1432 and 1520.
Founded: ca. 1200 | Location: Veberöd, Sweden

Skokloster Church

Skokloster Church, the second oldest brick church in Sweden, was built for nuns of the Cistercian order in the late 13th century. In the 17th century it became the Wrangel family burial church as well as for services. There are several significant artefacts in the church, like medieval crucifix and other wooden sculptures. The pulpit and altar were brought in the 17th century from Oliwa monastery in Gdansk, Poland. Behi ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Skokloster, Sweden

Föra Church

Föra Church was established in the 11th century, but the oldest still remaining parts date from the mid-1100s. The massive tower was built some decades later. The octagonal lantern was added in 1828. Fonts date from the early 1200s. There are several tombstones in the floor. The crucifix and couple of images of saints were made in late Middle Ages. The reredos was made in 1776. Pulpit was made in 1762 by Jonas Bergg ...
Founded: ca. 1150 | Location: Borgholm, Sweden

St. Mary's Church

St. Mary’s Church (Sankta Maria kyrka) is the oldest building in Ystad. The construction was began around the year 1200. The Romanesque style church was enlarged in the 1400s. The tower collapsed in a storm in 1648 when the nave was also damaged. The church was restored to double size. There is a big altarpiece made of oak in the early 1400s and two medieval crucifixes. The pulpit is a great sample of Scanian Baroq ...
Founded: ca. 1200 | Location: Ystad, Sweden

Hellvi Church

The choir portal of Hellvi Church carries a runic inscription which proclaims that a man called Lafrans Botvidarson built the church. The oldest part of the church is the tower, Romanesque in style. The upper part of the tower collapsed following a storm in 1534, hence its unusual shape. The nave and choir date from the middle of the 13th century and display an early form of Gothic style. The nave consists of two aisles, ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hellvi, Sweden

Burs Church

The church in Burs derives its unusual shape from the fact that it was built in stages. The nave is the oldest part of the church, dating from the early 13th century. The large tower was built in the middle of the same century, while the un-proportionally large Gothic choir was built a century later, replacing an earlierRomanesque choir and apse. Externally, the church is noteworthy not least for its choir portal. The do ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Stånga, 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

Strängnäs Cathedral

Strängnäs Cathedral is built mainly of bricks in the characteristic Scandinavian Brick Gothic style. The original church was built of wood, probably during the first decades of the 12th century, on a spot where pagan rituals used to take place and where the missionary Saint Eskil was killed during the mid 11th century. The wooden church was not rebuilt in stone and bricks until 1296, just after Strängnä ...
Founded: 1296-1334 | Location: Strängnäs, Sweden

Degeberga Church

Degeberga Church was built in the end of 12th century and it consisted of nave, choir and apse. The tower and vaults were added in the early 1400s. The tower is survived, but the other exterior dates mainly from the restoration made in the 1860s. The unique detail in the church is a pulpit, which was donated to Degeberga already in 1592.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Degeberga, Sweden

Röstånga Church

Röstånga stone church was built around 1200. The small tower was added in 1813 and the church was enlarged in 1832. The medieval porch was replaced with a new one in 1715. Inside the church the sandstone font dates from the Middle ages.
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Röstånga, 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

Hejde Church

Hejde Church is a medieval Lutheran church in Hejde on the island of Gotland. The church tower and the nave are the oldest parts of Hejde Church, dating from the middle of the 13th century. The choir is about a century later and replaced an earlier and smaller Romanesque choir. Plans to also enlarge the nave and tower were never executed. The sacristy dates from 1795. The church has two decorated entrance portals on the ...
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Hejde, Sweden

Perstorp Church

Perstorp Church construction started in the late 1100s and completed in the beginning of 1200s. The original apse was demolished and the sacristy added in 1836. The church door, made of oak, dates from the 1400s. There pulpit was made in 1623 and renewed in 1741. The altar is believed to be made already in the 1500s.
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Perstorp, Sweden

Fole Church

The current Fole church was preceded by a Romanesque stone church. Of this church, the tower remains and is thus the oldest part of Fole Church, dating from ca. 1200. The Romanesque church was gradually replaced with the current, more Gothic church. During the middle of the 13th century, the choir and about half of the nave were rebuilt, and a few decades later, the rest of the nave. The rebuilt church was inaugurated in ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Fole, 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.