Kaupanger Stave Church

The largest stave church in Vestlandet


Kyrkjegota 3940, 6854 Kaupanger


61.1841682, 7.23349

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Kaupanger Stave Church (Kaupanger stavkyrkje) is the largest stave church in Vestland county. It is a parish church of the Church of Norway in Sogndal Municipality. It is located in the village of Kaupanger, on the northern shore of the Sognefjorden – the longest fjord in Norway.

The brown, wooden church was built in the mid-12th century (around 1140) and it has been in use ever since that time. The church seats about 125 people.

Kaupanger stave church is a Norwegian Cultural Heritage Site. It is owned by the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Norwegian Monuments. The nave is supported by 22 staves (large bearing columns), eight on each of the longer sides and three on each of the shorter. The elevated chancel is carried by four free standing staves. The church has the largest number of staves to be found in any one stave church. It is the largest of the five stave churches in Sogn og Fjordane county.


The earliest existing historical records of the church date back to the year 1308. The first church in Kaupanger was a wooden stave church that was probably built during the mid-11th century. Not much is known about that church other than it was a rectangular building. In the early 12th century, a new wooden stave church was built at the same site. Unfortunately, the old church burned down at some point (probably in the 1130s) and the present church was constructed on the same place.

During the 13th century, the church was enlarged to the west by adding about 3.5 metres (11 ft) to the nave. After that addition, the nave measured about 13 by 7.5 metres (43 ft × 25 ft). In 1625, the choir was renovated and enlarged. Also, around that time, the covered corridor that encircled the church was removed and some small windows were added to the nave.

The brutal modernization

Over the centuries, there have been several restoration projects, both inside the church and on the exterior. A major reconstruction was carried out in 1862, which has been called a “brutal modernization”. New rows of windows were cut into the sides of the church, white exterior paneling was installed and dark roof tiles covered the old shingle roof. In 1959–1960, another restoration was carried out. This time many of the 1862 changes were undone and it was brought back to its 17th century look. The pulpit, altarpiece, and baptismal font that are in the church, date back to the 1620s or 1630s. In 1984, composer Arne Nordheim was inspired by the the sound of the medieval bells in Kaupanger stave church. Hence he composed the work Klokkesong, which was first performed inside the church as part of the 800th commemoration of the Battle of Fimreite.

What else to see?

If you’re in the area and are into old buildings, make sure to take a detour to the oldest and only UNESCO protected stave church in Norway – Urnes Stave Church. You are also not too far from great roads, like Tyinvegen, Scenic Route Aurlandsfjellet, Tindevegen and Scenic Route Sognefjellet.

Source: Wikipedia

PS! Sorry… I had to disable comments on this page… For some reason, ONLY THIS page is heavily hit by ‘spammers’, so I disable comments in an attempt to reduse spam-links….


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Other locations in this part of Norway: