Everything You Need to Know About Norway’s Borgund Stave Church

Borgund Stave Church

blog authorBy Johanna Hansen shield verificationVerified Expert

    One of the best-preserved stave churches in Norway, Borgund Stave Church is a classic example of the stave church: a staple of Norwegian cultural heritage. This famous Scandinavian church, also known as Borgund Stavkirke, is one of the oldest and most striking churches you can visit in Norway.

    Take a trip back in time as you discover the amazing architecture of Borgund Stave Church and learn all about the history of this fascinating building. Let’s learn more about what makes Borgund Stave Church a must-visit location during your Norway vacation, as well as everything you need to know about opening times, ticket prices and admission to see this famous Norwegian black church.

    Borgund Stave Church in Norway

    What is the Significance of the Borgund Stave Church?

    The most distinctive stave church in Norway, Borgund Stave Church is a medieval masterpiece with the only free-standing stave bell tower in Norway. Built in 1180, Borgund Stave Church is one of the oldest stave churches in Norway – the oldest church in Norway is actually Urnes Stave Church, built in 1130.

    This amazingly well-preserved building is an incredible example of traditional Norwegian stave church architecture. As well as viewing this striking Norwegian black church, visitors to Borgund Stave Church can also explore the beautiful and historically significant surrounding areas.

    For example, the historic walking path of Vindhellavegen, which was named as ‘Norway’s most beautiful road’ by the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, is situated next to Borgund Stave Church. The church itself also received a significant certification from Eco-Lighthouse for its efforts in fulfilling both environmental and social responsibilities.

    The History of Borgund Stave Church

    Stavkirke in Borgund was built in 1180 and was used for centuries as the village church of Borgund. Then, in 1868, a new church was built in Borgund, meaning the old stave church was at risk of demolition.

    Thankfully, the National Trust of Norway saved Borgund Stave Church from demolition by purchasing it in 1877. Since then, this incredible church has been restored and conserved, now functioning as a living museum offering a unique glimpse into the Norway of the past.

    Borgund in Norway

    What Religion is Borgund Stave Church?

    You might be wondering which denomination of Christianity Borgund Stave Church is. Formerly a Catholic parish church, Borgund Stave Church is now part of the Church of Norway.

    Where is Borgund Stave Church?

    Borgund Stave Church, or Borgund Stavkyrkje in Norwegian, is situated in a small village called Borgund in Southern Norway. Located in Sogn og Fjordane county in the interior of Norway, Borgund Stave Church can be found just off the European route E16, which is the main route between the two largest cities in Norway: Bergen and Oslo.

    How to Get to Borgund Stave Church

    Borgund Stave Church is around 260 kilometers from the Norwegian capital of Oslo, which will take around 4 hours 15 minutes to drive. If you’re starting from Bergen, the 220-kilometers drive will take around 3 hours 25 minutes. You can take the main E16 European highway from either Oslo or Bergen to reach Borgund Stave Church.

    Stave Church in Norway

    Exterior of Borgund Stave Church

    Wooden boards were used to build Borgund Stave Church, which rests upon a strong stone foundation. The incredible seven-tiered roof of Borgund Stave Church is complete with four traditional dragon heads, which were possibly added to ward off evil spirits and protect the church.

    Several carvings are etched into the exterior walls of the church, some of which have been gradually eroded over time and are difficult to distinguish. Some of these carvings are also believed to depict dragons, which were seen as a representation of the devil in Christian texts. These dragons are believed to function as a protection against the devil, like the dragon carvings on the roof.

    South of the church, you’ll find Borgund Stave Church’s bell tower, which dates back to the 13th century and remains Norway’s only free-standing stave bell tower. New walls were built in the late 20th century in order to preserve this tower.

    Interior of Borgund Stave Church

    Borgund Stave Church has a very dark interior, as there are only a few narrow windows to let natural light into the building. This lack of windows was also believed to protect the church from evil spirits entering it.

    Some of the entrances to the church are lined with etchings of snakes and foliage. Inside, you’ll find a mostly empty building with a row of benches and simple altar. The lectern and cupboard date back to the 16th century, whereas the altarpiece is from the 17th century.

    The most distinctive feature of Borgund Stave Church’s interior are the 12 free-standing wooden columns that support the building. At the tops of the poles are St Andrew’s crosses with leaf-shaped carvings.

    Snow in Borgund Stave Church

    Opening Times of Borgund Stave Church

    Borgund Stave Church is open for visitors between 15th April and 15th October each year. Please note that this church is closed on 17th May, as this is Norway’s national day.

    Each day during this period, Borgund Stave Church is open from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm.

    Ticket Prices for Borgund Stave Church

    Admission prices to visit Borgund Stave Church vary depending on demographics, so you might want to check out this list of ticket prices before heading to visit this famous Scandinavian church:

    • Adult: 110 kr ($10.30 USD)
    • Children and students: 80 kr ($7.50 USD)
    • Family: 250 kr ($23.40 USD)
    • Groups of minimum 10 people: 100 kr per person ($9.35 USD)
    • Pensioners: 100 kr ($9.35 USD)

    Amazing Borgund in Norway

    Important Points For Your Visit to Borgund Stave Church

    Make sure you’re all clued up for your trip to Borgund Stave Church with our top tips for visiting this incredible Norwegian black church:

    • All group visits to Borgund Stave Church must be booked in advance.
    • You can learn more about the history of stave churches in Norway in the Visitor Center at Borgund Stave Church.
    • If you get hungry during your visit, you’ll be happy to know that there’s a restaurant in the Borgund Stave Church Visitor Center.
    • Looking for some souvenirs of your visit? You can take a look in the shop located inside the Visitor Center for some gifts.
    • A maximum of 20 guests are allowed to enter Borgund Stave Church at any one time, in order to preserve this precious cultural heritage site for the future, so it’s best to allow more time for your visit as a short wait may be necessary.

    Window in Borgund Stave Church

    Discover Norway’s Magical Natural Wonders and Cultural Heritage Sites

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