Sorry, this content is not currently available in the mobile view. Switch back to desktop view to access this page.

Stave church road trip

Stave church road trip

1st October, 2018

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 the churches,
using the same techniques and decoration methods that were used to build Viking ships.

 The stave churches are concentrated in southern 
 Norway, in the mountainous triangle between
 Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim. It is with other
 words quite easy to find and visit these important
 witnesses of Norwegian history and culture. Only
 one of them, Urnes, has been declared a World
 Heritage Site by UNESCO, but all of them are
 worth seeing. All these churches date back to the
 12th – 14th centuries. Beyond their 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
. Compare it to the map
 of our hostels around Norway on our website. Our
 hostels are located just around the corner of the
 most beautiful stave churches!

 The most famous and important are the churches
 of UrnesHeddal 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.
 Our hostels at Sogndal and Skjolden are less
 than 30 km away!

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. Our hostel at Kongsberg is a 40-minute drive away.


Borgund Church is the most photographed and visited. It is exceptionally well preserved, and in its walls
were discovered several runic inscriptions. Our hostel in the nearby village of Borlaug will be happy to
welcome you!

Within 1 hour by car from HI Uvdal you may visit 4 stave churches; Uvdal Stavkirke, Nore Stave
, Rollag Stave Church and Flesberg Stave Church. Uvdal Stave Church is known for its
colorful work inside the church. Nore Stave Church is known for it was formed, already in the Middle
Age, as a Greek cross, meaning with equal long crossbones. Originally, Rollag Stave Church a simple
stave church, but the church has been changed in many stages with attachments in all directions of
heaven. Flesberg Stave church, as well, has later been expanded and changed according to its original
form, and the stave church is still in use as parish church.

HI Sjoa is located approximately 1-hour drive from one of Norway's largest stave churches, Lom
If you drive about 1 and a half hours in the opposite direction will reach Hegge Stave
Church, located in the Østre Sildre. This church is one of the few where you have opportunity to visit
the attic.

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 and
animals. Like that, they form an enchanting bridge between the Viking age and the medieval Christian
times, combining the best of both exciting periods in Norwegian history. A must-visit!

HI Kongsberg is a great hostel opened all year. The hostels HI Sogndal, HI Skjolden, HI Borlaug,
HI Uvdal and HI Sjoa are open seasonally, open from May / June to September. Uvdal Hostel is open
on request throughout the year!

For further readings about the Stave Churches, check out Riksantivaren og