Monasteries in Sweden

St. Peter's Priory

St. Peter's Priory (Sankt Peters Klosters kyrka) was one of Denmark's early monastic houses. It was established before 1166 during the tenure of Eskil, Archbishop of Lund, for Benedictine nuns. It was originally dedicated to Saint Mary and Saint Peter, but by 1200 it was simply referred to as St. Peter's Priory. The original church was built in the latter half of the 1160s of sandstone with the rounded arches of the Roman ...
Founded: 1160s | Location: Lund, Sweden

Mariefred Charterhouse Ruins

Mariefred Charterhouse, sometimes referred to as Gripsholm Charterhouse, was a Carthusian monastery, or charterhouse. It was the only Carthusian monastery in Scandinavia, and one of the last monasteries established in Sweden before the Reformation. The establishment of a Carthusian monastery in Sweden was brought about by the efforts of Jakob Ulvsson, Archbishop of Uppsala, and Kort Rogge, Bishop of Strängnäs, ...
Founded: 1493 | Location: Mariefred, Sweden

Ystad Abbey

Ystad Abbey was inaugurated in 1267 by the Fransiscan Order. Along Vadstena it is the best preserved medieval abbey in Sweden. Dissolved at the Reformation, the Abbey was handed over to the towns people and soon fell into disrepair. The eastern part and gatekeeper’s house has survived to present days.. In 1912 it became home to the local museum, which holds changing temporary exhibitions in a wing of the abbey and ...
Founded: 1267 | Location: Ystad, 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

Solberga Abbey Ruins

Solberga Abbey was a Cistercian nunnery in operation from 1246 until at least 1469. It was located outside Visby on Gotland until 1404, and then in Visby. It was the only nunnery ot the island of Gotland. Solberga Abbey was likely a daughter convent of Vreta Abbey. On 12 August 1246, Bishop Laurentius of Linköping mentions that the first nuns had been sent to Gotland, were Solberga was the only nunnery on the isla ...
Founded: 1246 | Location: Visby, Sweden

Roma Abbey Ruins

Roma Abbey was built in 1164 by Cistercian monks. The monks established a religious and agricultural centre for the entire Baltic Sea region. After the Reformation in the early 16th century, the monastery was abandoned. It was then under the Danish Crown. The monastery building was partly demolished and the church was used as a stable. In 1645, through the peace treaty in Brömsebro, Gotland became Swedish again. In ...
Founded: 1164 | Location: Romakloster, Sweden

Varnhem Abbey

Varnhem Abbey (Varnhems kloster) was founded around 1150 by monks of the Cistercian Order from Alvastra Abbey in Östergötland. The Cistercian Order used the same floor plan for all its abbeys, which makes it possible to easily locate the different rooms and halls regardless of the building site. A wooden and a stone church were both erected on the site before the abbey was built. The stone church was erected in ...
Founded: ca. 1150 | Location: Varnhem, Sweden

Bosjökloster

Bosjökloster (Bosjö Abbey) was originally a nunnery, founded in 1080 by the Benedictine Order. The oldest preserved document that mentions Bosjö Abbey was written by Pope Lucius III in 1181, when he confirmed its privileges. According to local legend, the land was donated by Tord Thott, the first known ancestor of the Scanian noble family Thott. The abbey was transformed into a castle in the 16th century, a ...
Founded: 1080 | Location: Höör, Sweden

Alvastra Monastery Ruins

French monks of the influential Cistercian order founded Alvastra Monastery in 1143. From Clairvaux in France, the monks brought modern methods of administration, technology and architecture to the province of Östergötland in Sweden. Alvastra Monastery is a distinct part of Östergötland's cultural landscape, and is open for visitors to follow the monks' medieval trail. The district around Alvastra pla ...
Founded: 1143 | Location: Ödeshög, Sweden

Vreta Abbey

Vreta Abbey was the first nunnery in Sweden, initially Benedictine and later Cistercian, and one of the oldest in Scandinavia. The exact year of the foundation is not known. The abbey was founded by King Inge the Elder of Sweden and Queen Helena on the orders of Pope Paschal II, which gives a date range for the foundation: Paschal became pope in 1099; the date of Inge"s death is disputed, but probably occurred around ...
Founded: ca. 1100 | Location: Vreta Kloster, Sweden

Gudhem Abbey Ruins

Gudhem Abbey, (Gudhems kloster), in operation from 1152 to 1529, was a nunnery in Sweden, initially Benedictine and later Cistercian. It is considered to have been one of the oldest convents in Sweden, after Vreta Abbey (1100) and Alvastra Abbey (1143). Gudhem, a name signifying "Home of the Gods", was according to tradition a holy place of worship already before Christianity. According to the saga, one hundred images of ...
Founded: 1152 | Location: Falköping, Sweden

Enköping Monastery Ruins

The Franciscan Monastery in Enköping was built during the 1200s, probably around 1250. The founder is alleged to have been a Peter Olai from Roskilde. In a letter to the monastery from 1275 Master Palne asks to be buried there, when his wife is already buried in the monastery. For this, he promises a large sum of money, a boat and a tent as gifts to the monastery. The monastery was reconstructed several times during ...
Founded: ca. 1250 | Location: Enköping, 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 Danes sacked it in 1568. Part of the abbey church was rebuilt in ...
Founded: 1147 | Location: Vrigstad, Sweden

Julita Manor

Julita Manor and open-air museum is located at the site of former Cistercian Julita abbey. The monastery was originally founded in 1160 at Viby, close to Sigtuna, but under the patronage of King Knut Eriksson, who donated land and a right to parts of the fishing at Älvkarleby, it was moved in 1180 to Säby by the lake Öljaren in Julita. The monastery was therefore also known as Säby, or Saba in Latin. I ...
Founded: | Location: Katrineholm, Sweden

Dragsmark Abbey Ruins

Dragsmark Abbey was a Premonstratensian canonry, also known as Marieskog in Norwegian. It was founded before 1260, with the support of King Håkon Håkonsson, and was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The abbey was very wealthy in its heyday and ran a prestigious school, but declined during the 15th century, and as early as 1519 was in the control of a lay administrator, the first monastery in Norway to be s ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Uddevalla, Sweden

Ramundeboda Abbey Ruins

Ramundeboda Abbey belonged to the Hospital Brothers of St. Anthony and was established in the late 1400s. This was the only Antonines monastery in Sweden. After Reformation abbey"s properties were seized in 1527. After that there was an inn until 1800s and the Ramundeboda Church between 1686-1688. The church was moved to Laxå in 1899.
Founded: c. 1475 | Location: Finnerödja, Sweden

Gudsberga Abbey Ruins

Gudsberga Abbey (Gudsberga Kloster) was a Cistercian abbey established in 1486. It was the last Cistercian abbey in Sweden. Gudsberga owned farms, manors, foundries and mines until 1527, when it was reduced to the Crown during Reformation. In 1538 and 1544 King Gustav Vasa ordered to send silver from abbey to Stockholm. It was demolished later. Today some stone foundations remain and there is a museum exhibiting the forg ...
Founded: 1486 | Location: Hedemora, Sweden

Skänninge Convent Ruins

Skänninge Convent was first mentoned in 1178, but it was probably established by the King Sverker between 1150-1156. In 1237 the Cistercian abbey was given to Dominican Order. It was burnt down in 1531. Today only foundations remain.
Founded: c. 1150-1156 | Location: Skänninge, Sweden

Riseberga Abbey Ruins

Riseberga Abbey was a nunnery founded by the Order of Cistercians around the year 1180. The land property of the abbey was donated by Earl Birger Brosa in 1202. After his death Brosa’s wife, Queen consort Brigida Haraldsdotter, moved to Riseberga and she was one of the most famous nuns in the abbey. Brigida has also buried there. Riseberga became soon very rich and powerful abbey. In the 13th century it owned 224 f ...
Founded: ca. 1180 | Location: Fjugesta, Sweden

Herrevad Abbey

Herrevad Abbey was founded from Cîteaux Abbey in 1144 as Denmark's first Cistercian monastery with the support of Archbishop Eskil of Lund. The original name, Herivad, meant the "army ford", referring to a ford over the Rønne River. After the construction of the abbey it became known as Herrevad, or "the Lord's ford", most likely because of the fee payable to the abbey for using the ford, and later the bridge ...
Founded: 1144 | Location: Ljungbyhed, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.