Vågå Stave Church

Vågå, Norway

Vågå Stave Church, which was constructed around 1150, is one of the older stave churches in Norway. It was originally dedicated to St. Peter. The prior rectory was formerly called Ullinsyn. The older name of the site may show that even in pagan times, the location had been in use for worship.

The church was converted to a cruciform church in 1626–28. Only the carved portals and decorative wall planks survived from the original stave church. It was a half-timbered building, where the church materials are reused. The basic architectural plan is a Latin cross. Above the crossing is a turret with a high tower helmet and four small side towers, a legacy from the Gothic tower architecture.

The conversion was under the direction of Werner Olsen (1600–1682), who was also known as Werner Olsen Skurdal after the last of his residence. He was noted as a church and tower builder. He later worked on remodels to Lom Stave Church and Ringebu Stave Church.

The crucifix at Vågå church is early Gothic work, dating from the mid 13th century. The pulpit dates from the completion of the church in the 1630s. The sacristy, constructed of shaped logs, was built later on in the 1660s. The altar piece is from 1674 and the altar rail dates from 1758.

Jo Gjende, was born in Vågå, was buried in Vågå churchyard. On his grave is a small soapstone monument, which shows a wild reindeer herd in flight, after a painting by Gerhard Munthe.

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Address

Vågåvegen 44, Vågå, Norway
See all sites in Vågå

Details

Founded: c. 1150
Category: Religious sites in Norway

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

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User Reviews

Hernán Neumann (2 months ago)
Beautiful country Norway
Ramunė St (5 months ago)
Interesting church
Espen Lie Melsom Rutger (6 months ago)
You have to see this church, the oldest parts of it is from 1150...
Carl Petter Opsahl (2 years ago)
Vågå Church is a beautiful wooden church erected between 1625 and 1630, partly built on wooden material from older stave churches that were in the area. Next to the church is a raised bell tower from the 16th - 17th century. The church has a distinctive interior with a lot of wood carving, such as the altar and the pulpit. At the left side of the altar is the wall painted with black and white motifs of Adam and Eve, the ark of Noah and Moses. The baptismal font is in soapstone, probably from the 13th century. From the same time, the crucifix is ​​also in three. The surrounding cemetery is also worth seeing, with many distinctive tombs from different times. A visit to this church gives a glimpse of Vågås history. Also recommend service visits on Sundays.
Albert Daverschot (2 years ago)
Beautiful on the outside, but closed for visitors
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Quimper Cathedral

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.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

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.