Staves churches in Norway

Besides landscapes, fauna and the aurora borealis, Norway is famous for being the only country in Northern Europe which preserves several stave churches. These are different from the medieval churches of the rest of Europe, precisely because they weren’t built with stone. Wood from forests was used to build both churches and Viking ships in Norway.
Rødven - Photo: Visit Norway
Rødven Church – Photo: Visit Norway
They are an important part of the national and global heritage. Only one of them, Urnes, has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. All these churches date back to the XII-XIV centuries.
Beyond its historical and cultural significance, the truth is that these places seem taken from a fairy tale. At present, they remain an area of religious assembly and they are a very popular place to get married.
Look at this map to see the stave churches that can be visited in Norway.
Borgund Church - Photo: Wikipedia
Borgund Church – Photo: Wikipedia
The most famous and important are the churches of Urnes, Heddal and Borgund. In the Sognefjord, Urnes Church is the only medieval church in the list of World Heritage of UNESCO. It is the oldest, dating from 1150. It stands out for its rich interiors, decorated with real and imaginary animals, like centaurs and dragons.
Stave Church in the Folk Museum, Oslo
Stave Church in the Folk Museum, Oslo
The Heddal Stave Church is known for being the largest one. According to the runic inscriptions of the interior, it is known to be built dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Currently, it is used by the parish of Notodden in Telemark.
Borgund Church is the most photographed and visited. It is exceptionally well preserved, and in its walls were discovered several runic inscriptions.
The common element of all these churches is that they have a skeleton of timber, with corner-posts. The decoration combines Christian designs with pre-Christian Viking motifs, like dragons.
Røldal Church - Photo: Visit Norway
Røldal Church – Photo: Visit Norway

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s