The current stone church in Hemse dates mainly from the 13th century. However, about a century earlier there was a stave church built at the same location. The surprisingly well-preserved stave church was found by chance under the floor of the stone church during a restoration in 1896, where the wooden planks of the church had served as an earlier floor. The wooden church, known as Hemse stave church, is the most well-preserved early stave church found in Sweden. There have been plans to erect a replica of the church somewhere near its original location.
The stave church was probably replaced by the presently visible Romanesque stone church as it became too small for the congregation. The nave and choir were built first, and the tower was added later.
During the aforementioned restoration the church was rather insensitively restored inside. A later restoration was carried out in 1962–63.
The church is a relatively homogeneous Romanesque edifice. Inside, it is decorated by medieval frescos. The oldest of these are in the tower, and depict centaurs assaulting thetree of life. Under it are two inscriptions in Latin. In the choir and the apse are depictions of the Last Judgment dating from the 14th century and in the nave, frescos from the middle of the 15th century depicting the Passion of Christ and two saints: Saint George and the Dragon and Saint Martin. There is also a rune inscription on the western wall of the choir, a repetition of the futhark or runic 'alphabet'.
Among the furnishings, the triumphal cross from the end of the 12th century is noteworthy. The baptismal font has a Romanesque foot but a later (14th century) basin. The church bell is from the first half of the 15th century.References:
The Erfurt Synagogue was built c. 1094. It is thought to be the oldest synagogue building still standing in Europe. Thanks to the extensive preservation of the original structure, it has a special place in the history of art and architecture and is among the most impressive and highly rated architectural monuments in Erfurt and Thuringia. The synagogue was constructed during the Middle Ages on the via regia, one of the major European trade routes, at the heart of the historical old quarter very close to the Merchants Bridge and the town hall. Many parts of the structure still remain today, including all four thick outer walls, the Romanesque gemel window, the Gothic rose window and the entrance to the synagogue room.
After extensive restoration, the building was reopened in 2009. On display in the exhibition rooms is an collection of medieval treasures discovered during archaeological excavations. This includes 3,140 silver coins, 14 silver ingots, approx. 6,000 works of goldsmithery from the 13th and 14th centuries and an intricately worked wedding ring of the period, of which only two others are known to exist anywhere in the world. A mikveh (Jewish bath) has been excavated close by (13th/14th century). The Old Synagogue, the Small Synagogue and two Jewish cemeteries together form a network of historical buildings and sites which vividly portray the role of Jewish life in the history of Erfurt.