Norway's Majestic Stave Churches Are Unmissable

View of Borgund stave church | © zoetnet / Flickr
View of Borgund stave church | © zoetnet / Flickr
Photo of Danai Christopoulou
13 October 2017

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.

Urnes stave church | © karaian/ Flickr

Borgund Stave Church, Sognefjord

Built around 1180 CE and exceptionally well-preserved, the Targaryens would definitely approve of those dragon heads.

Detail of the Borgund stave church | © jerdam : Flickr
Borgund Stave Church | © jerdam : Flickr

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.

Kaupanger stave church interior | © Nick : Flickr
Kaupanger stave church | © Karen Blaha : Flickr

Heddal Stave Church, Notodden

This one’s the largest stave church in Norway; built in the 1200s and still in use.

Heddal stave church interior | © blue_quartz : Flickr
Heddal stave church | © John Erlandsen : Flickr

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).

Fantoft stave church interior | © Pascal Volk : Flickr
Fantoft stave church | © Mandy : Flickr

Hopperstad Stave Church, Vik

Built in 1130, this church was restored using other stave churches (mostly the Borgund Stave Church) as a model.

Hopperstad stave church interior | © Stevan Nicholas : Flickr
Hopperstad stave church | © Peter : Flickr

Lom Stave Church, Jotunheimen

One of the biggest and most impressive stave churches in Norway, it dates back to 1158-59 CE.

Lom stave church interior | © Nick / Flickr
Lom stave church | © Nick / Flickr

Ringebu Stave Church, Lillehammer

This church dates back to around 1220 CE, with various bits added in later centuries.

Ringebu stave church vew | © Mike M : Flickr
Ringebu stave church | © Mike M : Flickr

Roldal Stave Church, Odda

Built between 1200 and 1250 CE, this church is famous for its “healing crucifix.”

Røldal stave church altar | © David Abercrombie
Røldal stave church | © David Abercrombie / Flickr

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.

Oye stave church | © Sam Greenhalgh : Flickr

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