As Norway transitioned from pagan Viking land to early Christianity, many wooden churches were constructed in high valleys, fishermen’s villages and along the fjords.
Wood was cost-effective and simple to construct in these regions, so many people preferred this building material over stone. The result is an eclectic style that draws inspiration from Celtic art, Viking traditions and Romanesque spatial structures.
1. Fana Church
Fana Church, situated in Fanahammeren in Bergen municipality, is one of Norway’s finest churches. Distinguished for its stunning architecture and intricate woodwork, it serves as an attractive venue for concerts and other events.
The church plays an integral role in the culture and history of its region. Constructed during the first half of the 12th century, it stands today as a prominent landmark.
Stone Church: Bergen was one of Norway’s oldest stone churches and once a royal chapel – one of 14 royal chapels founded during medieval Norway.
In addition to the church, there was also a hospital attached. Its foundations could still be seen in 1779 and it is believed that it was constructed at around the same time as the church itself.
In the Middle Ages, Krykkjehaugen (Crucch Hill) was a pilgrimage site known for its miraculous silver cross that could heal people. Legend has it that those infirm were supposed to throw their crutches away here at Krykkjehaugen (the crutch hill).
This church plays an integral role in the local community and boasts a large following. Additionally, several festivals take place here each summer.
At its height, this church was a major destination for pilgrims. Additionally, it served as a polling station during elections to the Norwegian Constituent Assembly in 1814.
Today, it has become a tourist landmark for Bergen and visitors can enjoy stunning views of the church as they stroll around. Plus, taking photos here is always enjoyable!
When visiting the church, it is recommended that you dress appropriately. Wear shoes which can be easily cleaned and not too heavy.
This church is an impressive example of a Norwegian stave church. These structures were constructed using methods that made them strong and durable, with planks dovetailed or pegged together without glue or nails for added strength and stability.
Visit this iconic church while in Norway; take a guided tour and learn about its fascinating history!
2. St. Mary’s Church
If you’re interested in Norway’s fascinating history and culture, visiting some of its top churches is a must. These iconic structures are popular attractions for both tourists and locals alike.
Mariakirken Church in Bergen, Norway was built around 1130 and is one of Bergen’s oldest structures. Over the centuries it has undergone multiple restorations – most recently in 2013.
St. Mary’s Church in Bergen is a popular destination for Christians visiting the city during Holy Week, due to its historic significance and unique architecture.
Romanesque church with two towers, this is one of Bergen’s most iconic structures and one of its largest. You can spend hours admiring all its features by simply walking around the church.
Over the centuries, this church has been graced with stunning paintings. Some date back to the 17th and 18th centuries! Of particular note are those on the alter screen which depict scenes from Scripture as well as liturgy.
Another highlight of this church is the pulpit, which boasts an unusual style and represents Baroque decoration in Norway. Crafted out of tortoiseshell and lacquer, this structure stands as one of a kind in its region.
As you walk through the church, behold its stunning stained glass windows. These can be an eye-opening way to learn about Christianity and religious practice in Norway.
Join the monthly Zoom service, a special service designed specifically for kids of all ages. Held on the third Sunday of every month, this interactive and fun learning opportunity helps you explore different aspects of Christianity.
If you’re traveling to Norway with children, make sure to stop by this church. It is an excellent opportunity for teaching your kids about Christianity and the significance of religion in their lives.
3. Heddal Stave Church
Heddal Stave Church is Norway’s tallest and most beautiful stave church, constructed during the 13th century. At 29 meters tall with a 25-meter base and 17 meter wide structure, Heddal Stave Church stands proudly in the country’s northernmost region.
Stave churches were constructed after Christianity replaced Norse religion, yet they retained some elements of Viking design. These structures featured wooden poles set into frames which rested on stones.
Heddal Stave Church is now a popular tourist attraction that’s open during the summer months. Tours are conducted in English for 80 Norwegian kroner ($9).
Norway is an amazing destination if you are interested in its history and culture. It makes for a lovely family vacation spot, as well as providing visitors with some breathtaking rural Norwegian landscapes.
Tourists can receive a free guided tour of the church, but it might be worthwhile paying for one if you want to learn more about Norway’s culture and history. Your guide will tell you about how the church was constructed, why it is so iconic, and why it was once one of the largest stave churches in Norway.
Entering Heddal Stave Church is like stepping back in time. This breathtakingly intricate building will surely make any traveler feel right at home and inspired by Norway’s past.
The interior is filled with intricate ornamentation and carved details that will transport you back in time. There’s even a special area dedicated to the parish’s ancestors.
Within the barn next door, you’ll find an exhibition hall and cafe. Two more stave churches can be found nearby, but Heddal Stave Church stands tall as one of Norway’s most striking sights and should not be missed during your travels.
In the 13th century, Norway boasted nearly 1,000 stave churches; however, only 30 still stand today. These magnificent structures should be preserved as more than just historical landmarks – they form an essential part of Norway’s cultural heritage.
4. Urnes Stave Church
Stave churches are astoundingly well-preserved wooden structures dating back to the Middle Ages. They are among the oldest preserved buildings worldwide and have been added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List due to their intricate carvings made out of wood and often featuring extensive interior ornamentation.
Only 28 stave churches remain in Norway, but Urnes Stave Church is one of the best-preserved and highly decorated. Situated along Lustrafjorden in Luster municipality, it’s a must-visit destination for visitors to Norway.
Urnes Stave Church not only boasts stunning scenery and stunning carvings, but it is an excellent learning resource about Norwegian history. Its north portal features intricately decorated sections from an earlier church, while the building itself dates back to the 1130s.
The northern portal, known as Urnes style, features decorations inspired by Norwegian mythology. Along with snakes and animal carvings, there’s also a twelfth-century candelabra in the shape of a Viking ship.
This type of ornamentation was popular during the Viking era, when Norwegians would worship their gods at “Gude hov,” tall rectangular buildings with wooden beams. Unfortunately, when Christianity arrived in Norway during the 900s, many of these structures were destroyed.
Thankfully, some of these buildings have been saved and restored. One shining example is Urnes Stave Church which stands in an idyllic natural setting and has been preserved for centuries.
There are a few ways to visit Urnes Stave Church, but the most convenient is hiring a tour guide and driver. This will give you access to the entire building as well as an up-close view of its fascinating details.
Once you enter the church, the first thing that strikes you is its intricate wood carvings. This has made the church so famous and it truly awe-inspiring to experience in person.
The wood carvings on the ribbed altar, chancel screen and choir opening are exquisitely detailed. Crafted from various types of wood with great care, these items are all masterpieces.