Y’all, this is a church.
This was particularly surprising to us, because we went to a LOT of churches in Europe.
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.
A tiny room with a simple altar and wood carvings was quite a change of pace.
Also, this church was from 1212.
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.
Some of the carvings and ornamentation definitely reminded me of things we saw at the Viking Ship Museum.
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.
Even looking at it from the outside, I was surprised it wasn’t just sailing away on the breeze.
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.