Large increase in number of visitors to stave churches in Norway

Heddal stave Church, Cultural Heritage Fund ReformationHeddal stave Church.Photo: Norway Today Media

More than 500,000 people visited the 28 stave churches in Norway last year,an increase of 18% from 2016.

The stave churches are counted together with the Viking ships as our most important contribution to world cultural heritage, emphasised the Employers’ Organization for ecclesiastical activities (KA), who is delighted with the figures, which show the number of paying guests,both Norwegian and foreign.

‘’There is reason to enjoy the figures, which testify to a considerable interest in visiting these unique churches’’ said senior adviser, Cathrine Lillo-Stenberg of KA in a press release.

Strong numbers

Gol stave church, Garmo stave church and Haltdalen stave church received a total of 300,000 of the visitors.

Urnes stave church, which was probably built between 1130 and 1140,had just over 20,000 visitors. The church became one of the first two
Norwegian cultural heritage sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List,together with Bryggen in Bergen.


But not all stave churches have good visitor numbers. The five stave churches in Valdres received total visits of only 4,272 persons in 2018.

‘’Here, and several other places, there is potential for much higher visits’’ said Lillo-Stenberg.

Stave churches are some of the oldest building works in Norway.The memorial association, which was founded in 1844,and which today owns several stave churches, has saved both wooden stave churches and stone churches from being levelled to the ground. One of them is

Gol Stave Church,which for 134 years has been at the Norwegian Folk Museum in Oslo.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today