Round churches

Tempietto di Santa Croce

The Tempietto di Santa Croce is a small octagonal Romanesque chapel found in the upper city of Bergamo, near the Santa Maria Maggiore. The original building was constructed in the first half of the 11th century, though first documentation of the structure dates to 1133.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Bergamo, Italy

Rotonda di San Lorenzo

The Rotonda di San Lorenzo is the most ancient church in Mantua. It is now sunk below the level of the Piazza della Erbe. It probably stands on the site of a Roman temple that was dedicated to the goddess Venus. It was built during the reign of the Canossa family in the late 11th century. Inspired by the Holy Sepulchre church in Jerusalem and dedicated to the martyr St. Lawrence, it has a central plan and has ma ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Mantua, Italy

Brescia Old Cathedral

The Duomo Vecchio or Old Cathedral (also called La Rotonda because of its round layout) is a rustic circular Romanesque co-cathedral standing next to the Duomo Nuovo (New Cathedral) of Brescia. It is one of the most important examples of Romanesque round church in Italy. While some claims for an earlier construction exist, the earliest documents state the cathedral was built in the 11th century on the site of ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Brescia, Italy

Rotunda of Mosta

The Church of the Assumption of Our Lady, commonly known as the Rotunda of Mosta, is the third largest unsupported dome in the world and the third largest in Europe. Built in the 19th century on the site of a previous church, it was designed by the Maltese architect Giorgio Grognet de Vassé. Its dome is among the largest in the world, with an internal diameter of 37.2 metres. the rotunda walls are 9.1 metres thick (nece ...
Founded: 1833-1871 | Location: Mosta, Malta

Santo Stefano al Monte Celio

The Basilica of St. Stephen in the Round on the Celian Hill (Basilica di Santo Stefano al Monte Celio), commonly named Santo Stefano Rotondo, is Hungary"s 'national church' in Rome. It is dedicated to both Saint Stephen, the Christian first martyr, and Stephen I, the sanctified first king of Hungary who imposed Christianity on his subjects. The earliest church was consecrated by Pope Simplicius between 468 ...
Founded: 468-483 | Location: Rome, Italy

Santa Costanza

Santa Costanza is a 4th-century round church in Rome with well preserved original layout and mosaics. It has been built adjacent to a horseshoe-shaped church, now in ruins, which has been identified as the initial 4th-century cemeterial basilica of Saint Agnes. Santa Costanza and the old Saint Agnes were both constructed over the earlier catacombs in which Saint Agnes is believed to be buried. According to the traditiona ...
Founded: 4th century AD | Location: Rome, Italy

Østerlars Round Church

Østerlars Church is the largest and, possibly, the oldest of the Bornholm island's four round churches. Built in about 1160, it was dedicated to St. Lawrence. It consists of an apse, an oval chancel, a large round nave and has three storeys. There is evidence the church was once fortified, the top storey serving as an open shooting gallery. The fieldstone wall stands on foundations of Bornholm limestone. The double ...
Founded: ca. 1160 | Location: Gudhjem, Denmark

Horne Church

Horne Church is the only round church on Funen. Originally constructed from granite stonework, it was modified in the 15th century with the addition of Gothic extensions on the east and west. The history of Horne Church is inextricably tied to Hvedholm Manor, located about 2 kilometres to the south and to the noble family Brahe associated with that estate. Several of the church's content items date from the 17th century a ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Faaborg, Denmark

Kilarrow Church

Kilarow Parish Church is a rare round church commenced in 1767. Daniel Campbell the Younger brought Thomas Spalding to Islay for the specific purpose of building the church which was completed in 1769 and is therefore, in Islay, the oldest church building in which public worship takes place on a weekly basis. The Round Church is 18.2 metres in diameter and the walls are 0.85 metres thick. The main central pillar is 0.48 m ...
Founded: 1767 | Location: Bowmore, United Kingdom

Rotonda di San Tomè

The Rotonda di San Tomè has a circular plan and is in the Lombard-Romanesque style, dating from the early 12th century, and dedicated to St. Thomas the Apostle. History The church was built in the district known in ancient times as Lemine. The date of its construction is uncertain, as well as the existence of other churches on the same site, as it is known a reconstruction was carried on between the end of the 11th ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Almenno San Bartolomeo, Italy

Bromma Church

Bromma church is a medieval so-called round church. The oldest parts of the church were built in the later 12th century as a fortress church, and the church is among Stockholm's oldest buildings. Originally the church consisted of the round house and a choir on the east side. The nave and the sacristy were constructed in the mid 15th century, built in stone. In the 1480s Albertus Pictor or his pupils painted more than for ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Ny Kirke

Ny Kirke (New Church) is a 12th century round church located in the village of Nyker. Built in the Romanesque style with two storeys, it contains frescoes from various periods and a pulpit with 17th century-panels. Ny Kirke is normally considered to be the youngest of the island's four round churches. It was originally called "Ecclesia Omnium Sanctorum" (All Saints Church). The present name dates from the middle of the 16 ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Rønne, Denmark

Solna Church

The medieval church of Solna is a so-called round church. The oldest part of the church, the roundhouse, originates from the late 12th century, and was especially built for defense purposes. Attached to this round center is a weaponhouse (south), a rectangular choir to the east, and a rectangular nave to the west. North of the choir is the sacristy, and to the east an octagonal grave choir. There is a second grave choir o ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Olsker Church

Sankt Ols Kirke (St Olaf's Church), also known as Olsker Church, is a 12th century round church located in the village of Olsker. Built in the Romanesque style and reaching three storeys high, it has from the beginning consisted of a round nave, a choir and an apse. The church was named after the revered King Olaf II of Norway who fell at the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030. The church first belonged to the Archbishopric of ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Allinge, Denmark

Nylars Church

Nylars Church (Nylars Kirke) is a round church built around 1165. The church was dedicated to St Nicholas. Originally designed for a defensive role, the solid structure contains a series of 13th century frescoes, the oldest of Bornholm's four round churches. The three storeys are built of fieldstone and with window and door frames of limestone. The original defensive systems are largely intact. The decorated south door i ...
Founded: ca. 1165 | Location: Aakirkeby, Denmark

Orphir Round Church Ruins

Today Orphir contains the remains of Scotland"s only surviving circular medieval church. Built in the late 11th, or early 12th century, the Orphir Round Church is thought to have been built by Earl Hakon. Dedicated to Saint Nicholas, its design was inspired by the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. At the time of the church construction, the Great Crusades were in full swing and the circular church had becom ...
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Orphir, United Kingdom

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

Hagby Church

Hagby Church is one of Sweden's few preserved round churches, and is considered by many to be the best preserved one in the country. The predecessor of Hagby stone church was the wooded Saint Sigfrid chapel, which was located about two kilometres south of the present church structure. The construction of this stone church began in the late 12th century. The structure was meant to serve both as a sanctuary and a fortified ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Ljungbyholm, Sweden

Thorsager Church

Thorsager round church is the only one of its kind in Jutland (and one of Denmark's seven medieval round churches). It was built of brick around 1200 and is one of Jutland's oldest brick buildings - perhaps the oldest. Its thick walls (1m) are an indication of the defensive role it played. The church may lie on the site of a pre-Christian sacrificial place for the god Thor. The size of the church and its architecture s ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Rønde, Denmark

Valleberga Church

Valleberga Church is the only known fortified round church in Scania. It was built of limestone in the middle of the 12th century. A reason for the building of the round church was that the master mason of the church, Carl Stenmester, also built churches on Bornholm, where round churches were common. The font was cut by the master of Tryde and shows one of the legends about Saint Peter and Paul of Tarsus. In 1791, the ro ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Löderup, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hochosterwitz Castle

Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.

The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.

In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.

Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.

About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.

Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.

A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.