The Churches of Gotland


There was a church here in the 12th century, as is evident from the sculptures in the great Romanesque nave portal. To this old church belonged the now half ruined "castal", the watch-tower. The oldest part of the new church is the chancel with its apse from the beginning of the 13th century, soon followed by the nave; the gallery tower was begun at the end of the century and completed in the 14th century by '~Egypticus". The manellously rich decoration of the whole interior with murals is unique. The walls are, as it were, covered with woven hangings, representing scenes from the life of Christ, and the vaults are sumptuously ornamented, in the eastern vault with traditional Gotlandic vine baldachins, in the western with, for Gotland, totally alien heraldic eagles and harpies and fighting knights and monsters. The artist has gone so far in imitating tapestries as to apply even the loops for hanging them up. Unique in Sweden is the suite of allegories of the months at the bottom of the frieze. A masterpiece of woodcarving is the stall from the middle of the 14th century with a Last Judgement painted on the back-panel. Note the paintings on the pew doors, "impressionistic" in manner, which represent a series of monsters out of the medieval bestiaries; they were made as late as about 1780!

Photo Hans Hemlin

Text Dr. Bengt G Söderberg


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List of the churches in alphabetical order

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