Torpo Stave Church

Holds some of the oldest decorative paintwork in Norway


3579 Torpo


60.664041451397, 8.7084855684197

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Torpo Stave Church is the only one in Hallingdal which is preserved on its original site. It is one of the oldest of the stave churches and is believed to have been built around the middle of the 12th century.
During the autumn of 1880 it was agreed that ‘Fortidsminneforeningen’ – ‘The National Trust of Norway’ should take over what remained of the stave church on the condition that they maintained it on its present site. Since then, The National Trust of Norway has been responsible for Torpo Stave Church.

9 meters high staves

Torpo Stave Church is a good example of the fully developed stave church construction. The rows of pillars in the nave of the church divide this into a central chamber and side-rooms or aisles kept apart by fourteen 9m high staves. Because the chancel and the outside covered passages are gone, the basic idea of the high central chamber with pitched roof and the lower side-aisles with sloping roofs comes clearly to view. The pillars – or staves – show clearly on the facade and give an idea of the construction.


The chancel, that was demolished in1880, had the same width as the nave itself, only somewhat shorter. On the East side it was rounded off by an apse, a semi-circular extension of the chancel. This had a cone-shaped roof and slim cylindrical spires. There are also traces of an older and narrower chancel. It is believed that this went out of use as far back as the 13th century. The materials remaining from the demolition of the chancel in 1880 were used in the roof, tower and floor of the new church.

Old paintwork

The nave is nowadays dominated by a great decorated vault depicting Christ, the apostles and the legend of St. Margaret. The vault is perhaps the greatest attraction in Torpo Stave Church. It was probably put up at the same time as the lectern and painted in the latter half of the 13th century. It is some of the oldest decorative paintwork in Norway.

Below the vault there has been a lectern (lectoruim), a gallery above the eastern part of the nave. The lectern was accessible by way of a spiral staircase, of which there are traces in the south- eastern stave. The gallery floor was supported by two beams which are still to this day, firmly fixed across the staves on either side of the nave. Over these stand two small pillars supporting the vault. All the way round the outer walls is a continuous bench with an arcaded front. This is part of the church’s original furnishing.

Opning hours

The season starts 01. June and lasts till 31. August. The church is open from 10:00 to 18:00 every day. Guided tours are available in this period and the guide can be contacted via phone +47 90 93 81 98 or email


In the area

If you find yourself at Torpo, you are not far from another stave church in Gol. This is a replica of the old church that was moved to the first outdoor museum in Norway, Folkemuseet at Bygdøy. You are not too far away from two great roads either; the gravel road Fanitullvegen and Scenic Route Hardangervidda.

YouTube video by ostanceprosb

Other locations in this part of Norway:

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