Boat or Church? Boat Church?

Y’all, this is a church.


Stave Church of Norway | Oslo | The Travel Medley
If you think it looks like someone built a pagoda with Lincoln Logs, you’re not wrong.


This was particularly surprising to us, because we went to a LOT of churches in Europe.


Churches Of Europe | The Travel Medley
Here’s a few others we saw. Are you noticing a theme?


While they were totally gorgeous, they all started to look alike. Columns, pillars, frescos, chandeliers, and stained glass windows. Yep. Got it. Check.


But the Gol Stave Church in Norway was a completely different story.


Gol Stave Church of Norway | Oslo | The Travel Medley
The décor was slightly different, for starters.


A tiny room with a simple altar and wood carvings was quite a change of pace.


Also, this church was from 1212.


Gol Stave Church of Norway | Oslo | The Travel Medley
Is your brain even registering that? This thing is 800 years old and counting.


Stave churches were some of the first Christian structures in Scandinavia.


So they had the traditional apse, nave, and aisles of the times. But they also had Celtic ornamentation, and drew inspiration from Norse traditions and mythology.


Gol Stave Church of Norway | Oslo | The Travel Medley
Which means epic wood carvings, interlaced patterns… and cute husbands?


Some of the carvings and ornamentation definitely reminded me of things we saw at the Viking Ship Museum.


Viking Boats and Ornamentation | Oslo | The Travel Medley
You have to remember that wood working was kind of their thing.


Norwegians had been world-class ship builders for centuries before these churches were built. So they used a lot of the same techniques for their structures on land.


Stave churches were built entirely of wood, using wooden dowel pins rather than nails. This allowed the building to expand and contract with the weather, rather than being constricted by metal. Additionally, the vaulted ceiling was built upon the same mathematical principles as Viking ships.


Gol Stave Church of Norway | Oslo | The Travel Medley
I didn’t take a picture of the tippy top, but you can still see the boaty-ness.


Even looking at it from the outside, I was surprised it wasn’t just sailing away on the breeze.


Gol Stave Church of Norway | Oslo | The Travel Medley
Boat or church? Boat church?


This was by far the most unique church that we saw during our trip. (Not a single chandelier in sight!)


And while this blog post was very short, it can be summarized in one sentence. STAVE CHURCHES ARE FREAKING COOL.


That’s really all I wanted to say.




  1. Reply

    I’m on a boat… church!

    1. Reply

      I clearly needed a nautical themed pashmina afghan

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