Medieval churches in 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

Åre Old Church

Åre Old Church was built in the late 12th century entirely in stone, with inspiration from contemporary Norwegian church buildings, since Jämtland then was a part of Norway. It is situated at the Saint Olaf Pilgrim's Route (S:t Olofleden), and nowadays is the seventeenth stop on the route that goes from Selånger Old Church ruins at Sundsvall, situated at the Gulf of Bothnia, and crosses the Scandinavian M ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Åre, Sweden

Brunnby Church

The Romanesque style Brunnby church originates from the 1100s and the tower from 1400s. The mural paintings were made in the same time and have survived well to present days. The pulpit from 1623 has a monogram of Christian IV, the King of Denmark.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Höganäs, Sweden

Sorunda Church

Sorunda church is an unusually large, medieval church. Its history goes back to the 12th century with major additions made in the 15th and 16th centuries (the current exterior dates mainly from 1540). The church contains burial chapels for local aristocratic families and several interior details dating from the Middle Ages, notably an unusually fine wooden sculpture by Herman Rode. The altar screen dates from the late 140 ...
Founded: 1540 | Location: Sorunda, Sweden

Bottna Church

Bottna Church dates from the 12th century when the sea level was much higher, possibly reaching the foot of the hill on which the church stands. The church retains the character of the Middle Ages when entrances were on the southern long wall. The door was moved, but the doorway remains, where there is a carved stone relief.The walls surrounding the basilica and parts of the chancel are original. Additions were made to th ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Dingle, Sweden

Östra Ryd Church

Östra Ryd Church was built around the year 1300 and the nave and vaults were constructed around 1430. The church was rebuilt completely in the 1700s, when the tower was added. The altar screen is made of oak in 1488. The limestone font dates from the mid-1200s and wooden cruficixes from the 1400s. There is also a chapel of Brahe family, added in 1690-1693. They donated lot of valuable inventory to Östra Ryd chur ...
Founded: c. 1300 | Location: Östra Ryd, Sweden

Tofta Church

The earliest church on this location in Tofta was probably built during the end of the 12th century. The oldest part of the presently visible church is the tower. The nave and choir both date from the middle of the 14th century. The church walls display fragments of medieval frescos that were found during a restoration in 1958-1959. A few medieval stained glass windows are likewise preserved in the church. Of the furnish ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Tofta, Sweden

Drev Old Church

The old church at Drev is built on a knoll amid an ancient landscape full of early remains. The church is the oldest preserved church in this province, dating from around 1170. There are traces of blocked-up doorways and windows in the walls. The men’s entrance was on the south side, the women’s on the north. the priest entered the chancel directly from the south. The interior is richly decorated with paintin ...
Founded: ca. 1170 | Location: Braås, Sweden

Jät Old Church

The Old Church of Jät dates from the year 1226. The wooden sacristy was made in 1733. The external belfry was built probably in the 17th century. It was damaged by fire in 1924 and restored in 1929. The interior is richly decorated by local artist Johan Christian Zschotzscher in 1749. The crucifix dates from the late Middle Ages. There is a legend about Miss Eketrä, who was buried in the crypt. When they opened ...
Founded: 1226 | Location: Växjö, Sweden

Enånger Old Church

Enånger Old Church is a well-preserved medieval stone church built in the second half of the 15th century. Walls has been decorated with gorgeous frescoes painted by so-called Tierp school in 1485. The pulpit was made by two masters from Stockholm in 1737.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Hudiksvall, Sweden

Bärfendal Church

Bärfendal Church was built probably in the mid-1100s. The current tower was erected in 1868. The font dates from the Middle ages and pulpit from 1642. The current altar was made in 1885.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Dingle, 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

Morlanda Church

Morlanda church is the only survived medieval church on the island of Orust. The current appearance dates from the 17th century. The bell tower was erected in 1765. The organs, made in 1604 in Copenagen, are the oldest still working organs in Sweden.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ellös, 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

Härkeberga Church

Härkeberga church was built in the early 1300s and was enlarged in the 1400s with the vestry and porch. Also vaults were added then. Albertus Pictor decorated arches and walls with murals in the mid 1480's. The wall paintings were restored in the 1930s. The paintings in Härkeberga church are Albertus Pictor's finest works. The stories originate from both the Old and New Testaments. They relate to the Biblia Pauperum, a ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Enköping, Sweden

Bro Church

The first church in Bro was built during the 12th century in Romanescue style. The next church was completed in 1236 and it represented the Gothic style. In the reconstruction around 1300 the nave was demolished and replaced with the present one. In the Middle Ages Bro church was a destination for pilgrimages, because very important relic, an “original” piece of Jesus Christ’s cross was kept there. The p ...
Founded: 1236 | Location: Visby, 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

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

Hablingbo Church

Hablingbo Church was made of sandstone. The tower was erected around the year 1200 and the Gothic-style main nave and choir were built in the 14th century. The sacristy was added in the 1730s. The most interesting detail is a Lion Portal, originally the main entrance to the former 12th century Romanesque church. When the church was rebuilt in the 14th century, it was re-used in the north face of the nave. The story of Ca ...
Founded: ca. 1200 | Location: Havdhem, Sweden

Ånimskog Church

The oldest parts of the Ånimskog church (a square floor area) were built in the early 13th century by an unknown master. In the beginning of the 17th century the eastern gable was removed and the church was enlarged to the east. The roof paintings were completed in 1739 by Hans Georg Schäffner. The font, made of sandstone, date from the 13th century. The red wooden bell tower was built in 1731.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Ånimskog, 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.