Visiting a stave church is definitely one of the most unique experiences to be had in Norway. These elaborately carved wooden churches exist somewhere in between: between history and legend, between Christianity and the medieval Viking traditions, between the past and the present, between you and more Instagram followers. Once popular throughout the northwestern Europe, stave churches can now only be found in Norway. Here are some of them that deserve your attention.
Urnes Stave Church, Sognefjord
The oldest stave church in the country (built around 1130 CE), Urnes is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Borgund Stave Church, Sognefjord
Built around 1180 CE and exceptionally well-preserved, the Targaryens would definitely approve of those dragon heads.
Kaupanger Stave Church, Sogndal
This was built in the first half of 11th century and has been in continuous use since. It is minimal and understated, as far as stave churches go.
Heddal Stave Church, Notodden
This one’s the largest stave church in Norway; built in the 1200s and still in use.
Fantoft Stave Church, Bergen
This is a reconstructed stave church, as the original was burned in a fire, but the reproduction paid attention to the smallest details (so you won’t be able to tell the difference).
Hopperstad Stave Church, Vik
Built in 1130, this church was restored using other stave churches (mostly the Borgund Stave Church) as a model.
Lom Stave Church, Jotunheimen
One of the biggest and most impressive stave churches in Norway, it dates back to 1158-59 CE.
Ringebu Stave Church, Lillehammer
This church dates back to around 1220 CE, with various bits added in later centuries.
Roldal Stave Church, Odda
Built between 1200 and 1250 CE, this church is famous for its “healing crucifix.”
Oye Stave Church, Valdres
Built towards the end of the 1100s but destroyed by the elements, pieces of Oye Stave Church were buried under a new church that was built later on the same spot—but by 1965 the pieces were found and the original stave church put back together.
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