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Stave church road trip

Stave church road trip

29 October, 2015

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 byUNESCO, 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 afairy 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!

Borgund Stavkirke – photo Wikipedia

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!

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!

Røldal – photo Visit Norway