There are two adjacent medieval churches in Gran called as Søsterkirkene, the sister churches. According to local folklore, the two churches were commissioned by two sisters who had fallen out and therefore would not be seen in the same church. It is, however, not uncommon for medieval churches with different functions to be built close to one another.
The smaller one, dedicated to St. Mary, was built probably before 1150. It is a single nave church, which either acted as a monastic church or a church for Gran parish and contains Romanesque and Gothic elements. A fire in 1813 gutted the church and it was not rebuilt until 1859. Until recently it was used as a chapel, but is now open for normal services. It can seat around 150 people.
The larger of the two churches is called Nikolaikirken (St. Nicholas Church). This church probably acted as a church for Hadeland parish and can seat around 250 people. Because of later rebuilding it is difficult to establish an exact date of construction. Based on stylistic evidence, however, it is thought that the church was built sometime between 1150 and 1200. The church is built as a basilica church with solid Roman columns and plastered walls. Much of the original interior has been lost in fires and in subsequent rebuilding.
In the south-eastern part of the churchyard there is a medieval stone tower, Klokketårnet, the original function of which is unknown. It is possible that the tower, which from the mid-19th century was used as a bell-tower, was originally used as a defence tower or refuge. The 11th century Granavollen Runestone can be found behind Nikolaikirken.
The towers of the Søsterkirkene form the base coat of arms to Gran municipality. Noted poet and journalist, Aasmund Olafsson Vinje, is buried in the cemetery of Søsterkirkene. A monument with a bust of Vinjes by sculptor Brynjulf Bergslien was erected at the site.References:
The Kalozha church of Saints Boris and Gleb is the oldest extant structure in Hrodna. It is the only surviving monument of ancient Black Ruthenian architecture, distinguished from other Orthodox churches by prolific use of polychrome faceted stones of blue, green or red tint which could be arranged to form crosses or other figures on the wall.
The church is a cross-domed building supported by six circular pillars. The outside is articulated with projecting pilasters, which have rounded corners, as does the building itself. The ante-nave contains the choir loft, accessed by a narrow gradatory in the western wall. Two other stairs were discovered in the walls of the side apses; their purpose is not clear. The floor is lined with ceramic tiles forming decorative patterns. The interior was lined with innumerable built-in pitchers, which usually serve in Eastern Orthodox churches as resonators but in this case were scored to produce decorative effects. For this reason, the central nave has never been painted.
The church was built before 1183 and survived intact, depicted in the 1840s by Michał Kulesza, until 1853, when the south wall collapsed, due to its perilous location on the high bank of the Neman. During restoration works, some fragments of 12th-century frescoes were discovered in the apses. Remains of four other churches in the same style, decorated with pitchers and coloured stones instead of frescoes, were discovered in Hrodna and Vaŭkavysk. They all date back to the turn of the 13th century, as do remains of the first stone palace in the Old Hrodna Castle.
In 2004, the church was included in the Tentative List of UNESCO"s World Heritage Sites.