Medieval churches in Sweden

Tåstarp Church

The oldest parts of Tåstarp Church were built around the year 1200, probably by monks from the Herrevad Abbey. Arches were added in the 15th century. In the 18th century the church was enlarged to the west and the new tower was erected in 1829. There is an medieval triumphal crucifix in the church. Pulpit date from 1619. A prehistoric sacrifical site is located next to the church.
Founded: ca. 1200 | Location: Munka-Ljungby, Sweden

Almby Church

Almby Church is the oldest one in Örebro. According the Dendrochronological investigation the oldest part, a choir, was built around the year 1120. The church was enlarged during the 13th century and modified again in the 15th century. The sacristy was added in the 16th century. In 1656 let baron Gustav Eriksson Leijonhufvud to build a chapel to the church. The church’s font dates from the Middle Ages. The sma ...
Founded: ca. 1120 | Location: Örebro, Sweden

Eksta Church

The oldest part of Eksta Church is the tower, dating from the 13th century and still unchanged. The rest of the church is also from the Middle Ages, but was heavily rebuilt in 1838. The church still has four medieval portals, in both Romanesque and Gothic style. The interior of the church is largely Neoclassical, dating from the 1838 renovation. A few traces of medieval frescos have survived on the walls, as have a single ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Eksta, Sweden

Täby Church

Täby Church was built during the latter half of the 13th century. It was first constructed as a square hall. In mid 14th century a vestry was added and about 100 years later the church porch was built. During the second half of the 15th century, the flat wooden ceiling was replaced by a vaulted ceiling. The altarpiece dates from the 1470s. The church is best known as one of the churches with mural paintings by Albertus ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Täby, Sweden

Norrsunda Church

The eastern tower of Norrsunda stone church was completed in the late 1100s. The nave was extended to the west and the porch and sacristy were built in the late 1400s. The chapel of Sparreska was added in 1633. The red brick chapel was built by Ebba Oxenstierna after her husband Johan Sparre. The tower got its present appearance in the first half of 1800s. The church was restored in 1902 and 1954. The wall paintings have ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Sigtuna, Sweden

Bunge Church

The tower of Bunge Church was originally built for defensive purposes as part of the older church. The present nave and choir were built around 1300. The interior is richly decorated with murals, dating from from the end of 14th century. These magnificent paintings were made probably by Baltic master, who arrived to Gotland with Teutonic Order. The baptismal font and limestone almsbox (with rune inscription: ”Lafra ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Fårösund, Sweden

Hölö Church

Remains of the 13th century church has been survived in the western wall of Hölö church. The tower dates from the 15th century, but the current appearance originates from the restoration made between 1792-1796. The Gustavian style interior has a Renaissance style epitaph of Karl Sture (died 1598) and his wife.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hölö, Sweden

Husby-Ärlinghundra Church

The stone church of Husby-Ärlinghundra was built in the mid-12th century. The porch and sacristy were added later. The bell tower was erected in 1717 and restored in 1819 to the present appearance. The sculpture of St. Michael, crucifix and mural paintings date from the Middle Ages. The Baroque-style pulpit was made in 1721.
Founded: ca. 1150 | Location: Märsta, Sweden

Hilleshög Church

The Hilleshög Church is a mostly Romanesque edifice, built in granite and brick, with some parts from the 17th and 18th centuries and later additions. It was probably built in the late 1100s and the sacristy and the porch were added in the 15th century. Many of the paintings in the interior, dating back to the end of 13th century and they early 15th century, were painted over in the 18th century but were restored in ...
Founded: ca. 1170 | Location: Ekerö, Sweden

Myresjö Old Church

Myresjö Old Church is a delightful medieval church without a tower, little altered since medieval times. It contains wall frescoes from the 12th century, which depict Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Wall paintings of this age are extremely unusual and well worth seeing. The font dates back to the foundation of the church. The church has a 17th century pulpit. The church was extensively renovated in the ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Myresjö, Sweden

Götene Church

The oak beams for the roof of Götene church were cut down around year 1125. Perhaps they were used for an older wood church. The choir of the church was consecrated in August 1, 1140. The baptismal font is from the first half of the 12th century. In the middle of the 15th century the flat ceiling was replaced by vaults and some years later the Götene workshop (Götene Master) painted the choir with scenes f ...
Founded: 1140 | Location: Götene, Sweden

Björlanda Church

The Björlanda Church is a medieval church built in the 13th and 14th centuries. It was inaugurated, according to the Icelandic skald Eysteinn Ásgrímsson, on a 15 July; the year of the inauguration is not known. The building has been renovated and extended numerous times. Additional windows were installed in the 17th century. In 1734, the medieval choir was torn down. The renovation works of 1936 resulte ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Torslanda, Sweden

Bollerup Church

Bollerup Church was built originally in the 1100s and arches were added in the 15th century. The church was restored and enlarged in the 1860s. Bollerup is one of the four churches in Scania with round tower. The baptismal font date from the 12th century, altarpiece and pulpit from the 17th century. Frescoes in the nave walls have been dated to the year 1476.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Tomelilla, Sweden

Stora Köpinge Church

The construction of Stora Köpinge Church was started in the 1100s and the nave choir and apsis were added in the early 1200s. The sacristy was completed in 1729 and tower was erected in 1860s. The interior of the church contains medieval frescoes painted by the Snårestad Master. There is also a Romanesque font. The pulpit dates from 1597. The church is known for its impressive altar canopy.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Köpingebro, Sweden

Åtvidaberg Old Church

Åtvids old church was built around 1500 and was one of Östergötland County’s largest at the time. In the late 1800s, Åtvidaberg was in need of a larger church. The old church fell into ruins and served as an open-air church for about 70 years. In the 1950s, Elof Ericsson, the director at the time, donated a large sum of money so the church could be rebuilt. The rededication took place in 1957. ...
Founded: ca. 1500 | Location: Åtvidaberg, 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

Brågarp Church

The first known church in Brågarp was probably a stave church, which was replaced with a stone church in the mid-1100s. The tower was added in the 1854. The font dates from the original medieval church. The original altarpiece, made in 1618, is today moved to the parish house.
Founded: ca. 1150 | Location: Staffanstorp, Sweden

Råda Church

Råda Church was probably built in the early 1100s to the site of even earlier wooden church. The chancel was rebuilt in the late 1200s and the tower and sacristy were added in 1400s. Mural paintings date from the 1632. There is also a Viking Age runestone attached in the porch wall. According the excavations made in graveyard, Råby was already inhabitate in the 9th century AD.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Råda, 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

Akebäck Church

Akebäck Church was inaugurated in 1149, but the current nave, choir and apse were built in the late 1100s. The strong tower was built in the 1200s. The font originates from the 1200s, wooden crucifix from 1400s, altar and pulpit from 1600s. The big chandelier was donated to the church in 1850.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Visby, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte

The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is a baroque French château built between 1658-1661 for Nicolas Fouquet. It was made for Marquis de Belle Île, Viscount of Melun and Vaux, the superintendent of finances of Louis XIV, the château was an influential work of architecture in mid-17th century Europe. At Vaux-le-Vicomte, the architect Louis Le Vau, the landscape architect André le Nôtre, and the painter-decorator Charles Le Brun worked together on a large-scale project for the first time. Their collaboration marked the beginning of the 'Louis XIV style' combining architecture, interior design and landscape design. The garden's pronounced visual axis is an example of this style.

To secure the necessary grounds for the elaborate plans for Vaux-le-Vicomte’s garden and castle, Fouquet purchased and demolished three villages. The displaced villagers were then employed in the upkeep and maintenance of the gardens. It was said to have employed eighteen thousand workers and cost as much as 16 million livres. The château and its patron became for a short time a focus for fine feasts, literature and arts. The poet La Fontaine and the playwright Molière were among the artists close to Fouquet. At the inauguration of Vaux-le-Vicomte, a Molière play was performed, along with a dinner event organized by François Vatel, and an impressive firework show.

After Fouquet was arrested and imprisoned for life, and his wife exiled, Vaux-le-Vicomte was placed under sequestration. The king seized, confiscated or purchased 120 tapestries, the statues, and all the orange trees from Vaux-le-Vicomte. He then sent the team of artists (Le Vau, Le Nôtre and Le Brun) to design what would be a much larger project than Vaux-le-Vicomte, the palace and gardens of Versailles.

The Marshal Villars became the new owner without first seeing the chateau. In 1764, the Marshal's son sold the estate to the Duke of Praslin, whose descendants would maintain the property for over a century. It is sometimes mistakenly reported that the château was the scene of a murder in 1847, when duke Charles de Choiseul-Praslin, killed his wife in her bedroom, but this did not happen at Vaux-le-Vicomte but at the Paris residence of the Duke.

In 1875, after thirty years of neglect, the estate was sold to Alfred Sommier in a public auction. The château was empty, some of the outbuildings had fallen into ruin, and the famous gardens were totally overgrown. The huge task of restoration and refurbishment began under the direction of the architect Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur, assisted by the landscape architect Elie Lainé. When Sommier died in 1908, the château and the gardens had recovered their original appearance. His son, Edme Sommier, and his daughter-in-law completed the task. Today, his descendants continue to preserve the château, which remains privately owned by Patrice and Cristina de Vogüé, the Count and Countess de Vogüé. It is now administered by their three sons Alexandre, Jean-Charles and Ascanio de Vogüé. Recognized by the state as a monument historique, it is open to the public regularly.

Architecture

The chateau is situated near the northern end of a 1.5-km long north-south axis with the entrance front facing north. Its elevations are perfectly symmetrical to either side of this axis. Somewhat surprisingly the interior plan is also nearly completely symmetrical with few differences between the eastern and western halves. The two rooms in the center, the entrance vestibule to the north and the oval salon to the south, were originally an open-air loggia, dividing the chateau into two distinct sections. The interior decoration of these two rooms was therefore more typical of an outdoor setting. Three sets of three arches, those on the entrance front, three more between the vestibule and the salon, and the three leading from the salon to the garden are all aligned and permitted the arriving visitor to see through to the central axis of the garden even before entering the chateau. The exterior arches could be closed with iron gates, and only later were they filled in with glass doors and the interior arches with mirrored doors. Since the loggia divided the building into two halves, there are two symmetrical staircases on either side of it, rather than a single staircase. The rooms in the eastern half of the house were intended for the use of the king, those in the western were for Fouquet. The provision of a suite of rooms for the king was normal practice in aristocratic houses of the time, since the king travelled frequently.

Another surprising feature of the plan is the thickness of the main body of the building (corps de logis), which consists of two rows of rooms running east and west. Traditionally the middle of the corps de logis of French chateaux consisted of a single row of rooms. Double-thick corps de logis had already been used in hôtels particuliers in Paris, including Le Vau's Hôtel Tambonneau, but Vaux was the first chateau to incorporate this change. Even more unusual, the main rooms are all on the ground floor rather than the first floor (the traditional piano nobile). This accounts for the lack of a grand staircase or a gallery, standard elements of most contemporary chateaux. Also noteworthy are corridors in the basement and on the first floor which run the length of house providing privacy to the rooms they access. Up to the middle of the 17th century, corridors were essentially unknown. Another feature of the plan, the four pavilions, one at each corner of the building, is more conventional.

Vaux-le-Vicomte was originally planned to be constructed in brick and stone, but after the mid-century, as the middle classes began to imitate this style, aristocratic circles began using stone exclusively. Rather late in the design process, Fouquet and Le Vau switched to stone, a decision that may have been influenced by the use of stone at François Mansart's Château de Maisons. The service buildings flanking the large avant-cour to the north of the house remained in brick and stone, and other structures preceding them were in rubble-stone and plaster, a social ranking of building materials that would be common in France for a considerable length of time thereafter.

The main chateau is constructed entirely on a moated platform, reached via two bridges, both aligned with the central axis and placed on the north and south sides. The moat is a picturesque holdover from medieval fortified residences, and is again a feature that Le Vau may have borrowed from Maisons. The moat at Vaux may also have been inspired by the previous chateau on the site, which Le Vau's work replaced.

Gardens

The château rises on an elevated platform in the middle of the woods and marks the border between unequal spaces, each treated in a different way. This effect is more distinctive today, as the woodlands are mature, than it was in the seventeenth century when the site had been farmland, and the plantations were new.

Le Nôtre's garden was the dominant structure of the great complex, stretching nearly a mile and a half (3 km), with a balanced composition of water basins and canals contained in stone curbs, fountains, gravel walks, and patterned parterres that remains more coherent than the vast display Le Nôtre was to create at Versailles.

Le Nôtre created a magnificent scene to be viewed from the house, using the laws of perspective. Le Notre used the natural terrain to his advantage. He placed the canal at the lowest part of the complex, thus hiding it from the main perspectival point of view. Past the canal, the garden ascends a large open lawn and ends with the Hercules column added in the 19th century. Shrubberies provided a picture frame to the garden that also served as a stage for royal fêtes.

From the top of the grand staircase, this gives the impression that the entire garden is revealed in one single glance. Initially, the view consists of symmetrical rows of shrubbery, avenues, fountains, statues, flowers and other pieces developed to imitate nature – these elements exemplify the Baroque desire to mold nature to fit its wishes, thus using nature to imitate nature. The centerpiece is a large reflecting pool flanked by grottos holding statues in their many niches. The grand sloping lawn is not visible until one begins to explore the garden, when the viewer is made aware of the optical elements involved and discovers that the garden is much larger than it looks.