Garmo Stave Church

Lillehammer, Norway

Garmo stave church originally came from Garmo in Lom in Oppland county. The church is mentioned for the first time in 1363 AD, but is for sure much older, probably built in approximately 1190-1225 AD or even some earlier. It was built on the site of a previous church believed to have been built in 1021 by a Viking chieftain. The church consists of 17th and 18th century inventory with a pulpit from Romsdalen. In 1730, it was expanded into a cruciform church in the timber.

After the new parish church was built in 1879, the stave church was demolished and the materials sold at auction. In 1882, the church was sold to Anders Sandvig, who brought it disassembled to Lillehammer. It was re-erected at Maihaugen in 1920-1921, where today, it is one of the most visited stave churches in Norway.

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Founded: 1190-1225
Category: Religious sites in Norway

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

VaP Inbox (2 years ago)
Beautiful open-air museum with historical village, viking wooden church
Zorayda Cocchi (Zorayda Yoga & Wellness) (2 years ago)
Beautiful old style church made entirely of wood.
richard albert (2 years ago)
Reconstructed at Maihaugen in 1921 by architect Heinrich Jürgensen as part of the open-air museum.
SUHAS Dubey (2 years ago)
Garmo stave church is at the top of the hill near the entrance to the Open Air Museum. It is the most striking building at the museum with its pointed tower with dragon heads on the ridges of the roof gazing out to the horizon. The church was built early in the 1200s, but has been extended several times, most recently in 1730. This is when it was given the current characteristic cross shape. The church stood originally at Garmo in Lom. It was pulled down in 1880, but the materials were kept and the church was reconstructed at Maihaugen in 1921. It is placed here as the parish church of the village, and shows what a church looked like in Gudbrandsdalen in the 1700s. It carries history from the middle ages up to the present day. The altarpiece and the pulpit are parts of the church's fittings that carry a message to the congregation through their motifs and symbols. This is where the children of the village were christened and the font still stands in the chancel of the church today. On an August day in 1859, Nobel prize winner Knut Hamsun was christened there. The church was at the centre of festivities such as christenings and weddings, and this is where Christian life was maintained from one generation to the next by the church services. The church was also the gathering place for the village, the only one before the arrival of shops and assembly rooms. This is where agreements were made, the meeting place of the young, and perhaps the fire of love was lit here. The church is in use for services during the summer months and on a Saturday we might find a newly married couple here. During the summer season we can meet the church guide, who can give us the history of the church.
Alisa Hellemose-Hansen (2 years ago)
I've only seen two stave churches in my life. Both were pretty amazing, but this one was ornate inside, with some extensions - lovely.
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From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

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The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.