Utstein Abbey

Mosterøy, Norway

Utstein Abbey is Norway's best-preserved medieval monastery. The abbey, dedicated to Saint Laurence, was founded in its present location during the reign of King Magnus VI of Norway (1263–1280). It was a house of Augustinian Canons. It appears however that this community was the one previously established as St. Olav's Abbey, Stavanger, one of the earliest Augustinian monasteries in Norway if not the very earliest: the exact date of its foundation is unknown, but it was well established by 1160.

At its height, about 20–30 monks lived there, with twice as many lay people working on the building, the cooking and the farming. The abbey owned extensive lands, and could feed about 250 people a year. It was dissolved in 1537 during the Reformation and was given in fee to Trond Ivarsson, a nobleman who served as local bailiff. It served as a private residence for many years. The property came under the control of the Garmann (1706) and Schancke (1885) families. In 1899 the estate was acquired by the state.

Utstein Abbey is the best-preserved monastery in the whole of Norway, still using both the church and the eastern and southern part of the ground floor of the conventual buildings. In 1900-1904 major restoration work was carried out on the church, and in 1965 work on the remaining buildings was completed. The monastery was restored under plans designed by architect Gerhard Fischer. Church west window were reconstructed, the ceiling was rebuilt with the original angle and all interiors have been restored and put in a position so that the buildings now serve as venue for concerts, seminars, conventions, etc. It is now owned entirely by the Utstein Kloster Foundation. The abbey can be reached from Stavanger in 30 minutes by road through the Rennfast undersea tunnel.

The Utstein Abbey is also well known for its role in hosting conferences for development of reporting guidelines in emergency medicine, resuscitation, and traumatology. The first Utstein conference was held at the Utstein Abbey in 1990 and resulted in the publication of guidelines for uniform reporting of data from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, the Utstein Style.



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Founded: 1263-1280
Category: Religious sites in Norway


4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Jules Jams (15 months ago)
A truly beautiful place with a magical musical recital. Well with the trip!
Per G (18 months ago)
Utstein kloster er Norges eneste bevarte middelalderkloster, beliggende i nydelige omgivelser på Mosterøy i Rennesøy kommune. Her hadde Harald Hårfagre sin kongsgård. I middelalderen var det kloster for augustinermunker og seinere fogde gård på 1700-tallet. Klosteret ble bygd fra 1260-årene, men det er mulig at noen bygningsdeler er eldre og skriver seg fra et tidligere kongsgård anlegg. Kirken er enestående i sitt slag i Norge, med tårnet plassert midt mellom kor og skip. Utstein Monastary is mentioned in historical records going back to the 9th century, when it was cited as King Harald Fairhair´s garrison after the Battle of Hafrsfjord where Norway was unified under one monarch. Construction of the Monastary started in about 1260, although some parts may be older and may date from earlier royal farm on the site. The Church is unique in Norway with its tower situated centrally between chancel and nave. Norway’s only preserved medieval monastery Utstein Monastery is Norway’s only preserved medieval monastery. It lies in beautiful surroundings on the island of Mosterøy, a 30 minutes drive from Stavanger. The monastery is today a museum. The site of Utstein Monastery is mentioned in historical records dating back to the Eleventh Century, when it was mentioned as having been a farm belonging to King Harald Fairhair after the Battle of Hafrsfjord in 872. Construction of the monastery started in about 1260, although some parts may be older and may date from the earlier royal farm on the site. The church is unique in Norway, with its tower situated centrally between chancel and nave. The Augustinians lived a pious life. Discipline was strict, with regular prayer, scripture reading and mases. Probably not more than 12 Augustinians lived at the monastery, but there certainly would have been many servants who did the farming, built buildings and prepared food. The monastery owned a considerable amount of land and was wealthy enough to support 250 people year-round.
Stephen H (18 months ago)
Nice place to visit. Interesting history.
Sally Monk (19 months ago)
Beautiful setting and peaceful. On a ship's tour from Stravanger when we were treated to a short talk on the history of the Kloster and an organ recital.
Thomas Crawford (2 years ago)
A very peaceful, significant historical landmark nestled in a very intense landscape. Very nice and inviting people here. Well worth the visit!
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