Nestled in a lush green valley, and seemingly untouched for centuries, Borgund Stave Church allows visitors to experience wonderful countryside walks with unique Norwegian architecture and history. The building was built around 1180 and is exceptionally well preserved. It is dedicated to the Apostle Andrew. The style of the church, which is typical of Norwegian stave churches, is probably considered Norway's most distinctive contribution to architecture.
Stave churches are among Norway's most recognisable and distinctive heritage sites. While they are very often copies of earlier churches, they nevertheless allow us to realise the importance of wood in medieval sacred architecture, a rare testimony on a European scale.
The Eidsborg Stave Church dates from the mid-13th century, but only the nave of the church remains from this period. During the restoration work carried out by the great Norwegian architect Arnstein Arneberg in 1927, painted figures were discovered in the church. The wall decoration of the nave dates from the 17th century, the roof decoration was designed during the restoration by Arnstein Arneberg according to models from the Middle Ages.
The Gol Stave Church dates back to around 1200. The interior of the columnar structure of the stave church from the 13th century has been preserved. Since 1884 the church has been owned by the ruling monarch in Norway since Oscar II (1872 - 1907) moved it to its open-air museum. It has four copies, two in Norway and two in the United States. The church is now a part of the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History.
The Stave Church of Heddal was built in the first half of the 13th century. This church played an important role in the description and preservation of Norwegian stave churches. In the first half of the 19th century, and with the rise of romanticism, the old building was widely considered a source of inspiration, reflecting a glorious and idealised past. Thus, the building became notorious, as well as its ruinous condition. It was restored in 1850-1851, and later in the 1950s.
The Stave Church of Hopperstad was built around 1130 and stands on its original site. In the 17th century, it was renovated and enlarged, but the present church owes much of its appearance to the restoration carried out between 1885 and 1891. The church has regained its medieval appearance with a design by the architect Peter Andreas Blix, who was largely inspired by the model of Borgund's stave church.
The Urnes Stave Church is dated around 1140, making it one of the oldest stave churches. From the Middle Ages, large parts of the structure have been preserved. In 1902, the church was restored and the decorated gables were covered to prevent their destruction. The church is considered unique because of its woodcarving work and extensive interior decoration. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
The Stave Church of Øye is generally dated to around 1200, although it was first mentioned in 1347. The medieval church was destroyed in 1747, but after the rediscovery of its existence during a restoration of the church that succeeded it, it was decided to rebuild it, which was done in the 1950s under the direction of Ole Øvergaard. It is thought that the old church had a tower, as did the stave church of Uvdal.
Røldal Stave is a 13th-century church. In the 17th century, the walls of the church were richly decorated with paintings. During the renovation in 1844, the nave was extended to the west and given a new ceiling. In 1913-1918 the church underwent a major reconstruction. The church is famous for a 13th-century crucifix hanging above the choir opening.