Complete Traveler’s Guide to Fantoft Stave Church

Fantoft Stave Church

blog authorBy Johanna Hansen shield verificationVerified Expert

    A stunning black church in Norway, the historic Fantoft Stave Church survived despite the odds. Since its original construction in 1190, this wonderful stave church in Bergen has seen a fire, demolition attempt and even an entire piece-by-piece relocation.

    Let’s learn more about the remarkable testament to Norway’s architectural heritage that is Fantoft Stave Church, including where exactly this Norwegian black church is, how to get there, its fascinating history and all you need to know about visiting Fantoft for yourself.

    All About Fantoft Stave Church

    Fantoft Stave Church, or Fantoft Stavkirke in Norwegian, is a brilliantly-preserved example of the traditional wooden church construction that was once popular across Northern Europe. Its intricate woodwork, ornate carving, dragon motifs and Chrisitian symbolism make Fantoft Stave Church one of the most historic and beautiful stave churches in Norway.

    Following the traditional stave church architectural design, Fantoft Stave Church is one of Norway’s black churches. The exterior of these wooden churches were coated with a protective layer of black tar, giving them their distinctive dark color and ensuring the wooden construction would last over the centuries.

    Fantoft Stave Church in Bergen

    Where is Fantoft Stave Church?

    Located in Bergen, the second-largest city in Norway, Fantoft Church can be found in Fana borough. Part of Vestland county, this southeastern borough of the city of Bergen is located in the heart of Fjord Norway. Bergen’s Fantoft Church is one of several surviving stave churches that can be found in rural areas close to villages around the fjords.

    How to Get to Fantoft Stave Church

    Visiting this Bergen Church is easy to fit into your day, as it’s very close to the city center. To reach Fantoft Stave Church from Bergen, the 8-kilometer drive will only take 15 minutes and follows a simple route taking you south of the city. Another option is to travel on the Bergen Light Rail, or Bybanen, which takes around 20 minutes to reach Fantoft Stave Church. 

    History of Fantoft Stave Church, Bergen

    Fantoft Stave Church wasn’t always located in Fana; originally, the church sat in the village of Fortun in Sogn, which is also part of Vestland country. Around 270 kilometers away from Fantoft Stave Church’s current home, this original location is now home to the newer Fortun Church, which was built in 1879.

    When the new church took its place, Fantoft Stave Church was saved from demolition by being transported, piece by piece, to its current location in Fana. Consul Fredrik Georg Gad saved Fantoft Stave Church from demolition by buying it and having it transported to his property where it would serve as a private chapel for his family.

    The original Fantoft Stave Church was built in Sogn in 1170, but has since been reconstructed after being burnt down in 1992.

    Fantoft Church

    Norwegian Black Metal and Fantoft Stave Church

    Originating in the 1990s, the black metal, or death metal, scene in Norway was composed of musicians who spouted anti-Christian, Satanic views and advocated violence, often appearing wielding medieval weaponry.

    The fire of 1992 was, in fact, believed to be arson and formed part of a string of black metal church burnings in Norway started by early members of the Norwegian black metal music scene.

    As news of Fantoft Stave Church’s burning spread, the fire was originally believed to have been caused by an electrical failure or lightning. It later came to light that a Norwegian black metal musician named Varg Vikernes was charged with several Norwegian church burnings. Although he was charged with the Fantoft Stave Church burning, the jury didn’t find him guilty of this particular burning.

    Varg Vikernes served 15 years for murder, multiple church arsons and possession of explosives. The image of the burnt shell of Fantoft Stave Church after the 1992 fire featured on the album cover of an EP he released in 1993.

    The Norway church burnings are believed to have been conducted by early Norwegian black metal musicians as anti-Christian acts to take ‘revenge’ against Christianity for ‘desecrating’ Viking temples and sacred spaces. Since 1997, Fantoft Stave Church has been surrounded by a security fence.

    Fantoft Stave Church in Winter

    Reconstruction of Fantoft Stave Church

    Following the fire, Fantoft Stave Church was painstakingly rebuilt according to the original construction techniques. As it had been centuries since the last stave church in Norway was built, little knowledge of the traditional stave church architecture was preserved; however, there were some surviving drawings and surveys that helped in the process.

    400-year-old pine was used in the reconstruction of Fantoft Stave Church, which managed to replicate the original architecture of this historic church. In 1997, the reconstruction was complete and the church was consecrated. There are two objects dating back to the 12th century from the original church that you can see at the contemporary Fantoft Stave Church, including a wish stone embedded in one wall and a cross on the altar.

    Visiting Fantoft Stave Church, Bergen

    Here’s everything you’ll need to know to enjoy your trip to the incredible Fantoft Stave Church in Bergen. 

    Fantoft Stave Church Opening Times

    Fantoft Stave Church is open to visitors throughout the summer season. In 2024, this special Norwegian black church is open from 15 May to 30 September 2024. It’ll just be closed for one day on 17 May for Norway’s National Day. The opening times are from Monday to Sunday 10:30 - 18:00.

    Although it’s only possible to visit the inside of Fantoft Stave Church during the summer, you can take a look at this historic church’s impressive exterior at any time of year.

    Fantoft Stave Church Admission Prices

    If you’d like to visit Bergen’s Stave Church of Fantoft, here are the prices you can expect to pay for admission:

    • Adults: 80 NOK ($8 USD)
    • Students: 55 NOK ($5 USD)
    • Children: 40 NOK ($4 USD)

    Keep in mind that prices are subject to change. If you’re considering spending more time exploring Bergen, you might like to think about purchasing a Bergen Card, which is a handy travel card that gives you free and discounted entry to attractions, events, museums and tours. Some local bus, train and boat routes are free with the card and you’ll also get discounts on restaurants and parking.

    Sunset in Fantoft Stave Church

    Top Tips For Visiting Fantoft: Bergen, Norway’s Church

    When planning your visit to Fantoft Stave Church, it might help to keep these top tips in mind:

    • Wear waterproof clothes – Norway’s weather is famously changeable, making it a great choice to wear waterproof outer layers and shoes for any day trips you’d like to make during your Norway vacation, including your Fantoft Stave Church visit.
    • Check the weather forecast – Another beneficial thing to do before visiting Fantoft Stave Church is checking the weather forecast in Norway. This is especially true if you’re planning to combine your visit to one of Norway’s amazing black churches with some outdoor exploring or nature activities, such as hiking or a cruise along the nearby Norwegian fjords.
    • Bring snacks and water – We recommend keeping some snacks and water on hand for your day trip to make sure you’re fully energized and hydrated, so you can enjoy soaking in the breathtaking views of Fantoft Stave Church.
    • Make sure to bring your camera – You won’t want to miss the chance to take some dazzling Fantoft Stave Church photos, so don’t forget to pack your camera and a waterproof case to keep it dry.

    Plan Your Own Visit to the Incredible Fantoft Stave Church in Bergen

    Inspired to make your own visit to the historic Fantoft Stave Church? As well as fascinating cultural heritage sites, Norway has a whole range of incredible natural wonders that will take your breath away. From stunning fjords to majestic mountains and lush forests, the landscapes of Norway make this incredible Nordic nation the perfect destination for a tranquil getaway.

    There’s no better way to explore the wonders of our beautiful country than by renting a campervan in Norway, taking to the roads and traveling wherever your heart desires. With a campervan, you can take your home with you and get up close to the amazing scenery that makes Norway so magical. Ready to begin your adventure? Let’s go!

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