Norway’s Incredible Stave Churches

Day 32: Borgund, Norway.

We didn’t sleep near a river. We didn’t sleep near a waterfall. We didn’t sleep under a tree. We didn’t get disturbed all night and it was bloody peaceful. After nearly 100 days of living in a van you’d think I’d have learned where to park for a good nights sleep by now wouldn’t you?

A really lovely morning when we peeled back the curtains this morning. Some blue skies, soft clouds and a light breeze in the air. The usual morning routine and we were on our way to get the first ferry of the day and to see the first stave church of the day!


Urnes Stave Church

The oldest stave church that’s still standing today. It’s said that there were around 1,300 stave churches across Europe in the medieval times and there are only 28 remaining in Norway. Urnes is the oldest one of the bunch and has been standing on the same plot since 1150.

A beautiful combination of viking age and christian architecture which gives the uniqueness that Urnes Stave church offers. The intricate carvings and details in the all wooden building are an unbelievable show of craftsmanship. From the intricate cravings around the doors, to the dragons, snakes and beasts on the side of the church.

Inside offers more of the same. With impressive staves (the huge columns) holding the building strong and offering the support to this magnificent building. The history held inside this building is mind blowing. Different changes for different times, but some pieces standing the test of time.


Kaupanger Stave Church

One of the bigger stave churches and one that’s still in use by it’s community today. Kaupanger is impressively tall and commands your attention. What it lacks in detail, dragons and that medieval gothic look, it absolutely makes up for it in size.

Beautifully set on the hill over looking one of the prettiest fjords we’ve seen to date, it was definitely worth the visit.

Unfortunately we got slightly distracted by something much cuter, livelier and more fun.


Borgund Stave Church

This has to be one of my best travel experiences to date. And this building, architectural masterpiece and historic gem has to be one of my favourite things I’ve ever seen. I’m not even exaggerating either. Leaving this place left me with a head full of curiosity and a face filled with a smile.

Borgund stave church is the second oldest church, behind Urnes but my goodness is it the best looking church I’ve EVER seen. I think we’ve seen around 6/7 stave churches now and this one literally made me WOW.

When we came around the corner we could initially see the ‘new’ church. Built in the 1860’s to help preserve the much older stave church which was built in 1180. I was a little disappointed as I thought that was the church we were here for…

…then this popped around the corner.

Speechless and amazed by this absolutely enchanting marvel of architecture I couldn’t wait to explore and see it up close.

It was late when we decided to visit and didn’t realise it was still open. We only wanted a quick poke around the outside and to take some photos. But to my delight there was a young girl checking tickets at the entrance. I politely asked if we could just walk around and we weren’t interested in seeing inside. She umm’d and arr’d but agreed to let us in.

Only turns out she’s from North Wales herself and was one of the most enthusiastic people I’ve met in my entire life. We accidentally bumped into her inside the unlit and dark church and to our surprise she invited us to stay so we could learn more about the church.

One of the best persevered, Borgund has all it’s original features. Built on the same holy grounds the pagans (Vikings) used to worship on this place is a historic minefield.

With ancient ruins carved into the wood, family symbols and pilgrims signatures carved into doors, the very site of human and animal sacrifice this place is mind boggling and very surreal.

The combination of paganism and christianity gives this place it’s incredible uniqueness and is an amazing blend of the two religions. Dragons protecting the doors and the church itself with intricate dragon heads.

We could have spent hours learning about the ins and outs of this fascinating church, especially with the Welsh ladies enthusiasm and love for her job.

I doubt she’ll ever read this, but if she does some how, thank you for an amazing experience and making our Norway Adventure an even more memorable one!


Tomorrow we’re heading across to Bergen for the afternoon and then our journey home begins. What. An. Adventure. The best time of my life for sure and one I can’t wait to read about when I’m 75. Especially things like breaking my finger without any health insurance, being interrogated by the German drugs squad, spotting moose, reindeer, beavers and other amazing wildlife.

But most of all being proud that I was brave enough to change something when I wasn’t happy.

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2 Replies to “Norway’s Incredible Stave Churches”

  1. Sounds as if the Stave church(es) experience was timed perfectly – what a fitting way to round off your adventure and mark the start of the homeward straight.

    The churches and surrounding countryside looks bizarrely beautiful.

    1. Absolutely, great way to end what’s been an incredible adventure.

      If you haven’t you must visit the stave churches, they are absolutely incredible. Awe-inspiringly beautiful.

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