Urnes Stave Church
Urnes Stave Chutch is a unique and remarkable historical monument of Norway. Built almost entirely of wood, this church is considered the oldest of its kind in the country. Built in the Sogn area, which has the famous giant fjord Sognefjord - the largest of all the fjords in Norway. Located north of Bergen, in the area of Ornes, the wooden temple can be reached most conveniently by car or bus from Bergen.
The unique monument is owned by the company charged to protect the Norwegian ancient monuments, and from 1979 was included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. The foundations of the building were laid between 1130 and 1150, and it is raised entirely from wood. This religious building has no windows. It was demolished and rebuilt three times, the church still stands on its original location and is fundamental to the relationship between Christianity and ancient Viking culture.
In its architecture can be seen Christian religious scenes and Viking motifs, mainly related to the depiction of animals, like dragons. According to archaeological studies two previous buildings that stood here were simple wooden houses built around poles stuck into the ground and lined with logs. Researchers have found in the ruins of this place evidence of Christian burials having been carried out, indicating that the Vikings were religious.
The oldest parts of Urnes Stave Chutch are more than 900 years old and include a beautifully carved portal, a few wooden planks and a corner column saddle, which certainly were part of the first building here. In the dark interior of the church can be seen the preserved parts of a 12th century altar, which reproduces the Crucifixion, as well as some later decorations.
At the main gate is depicted a miniature, which represents the battle between Christ and Satan. It is a four-legged animal that was probably a lion, biting a snake, which is winding up among thick leaves. This decoration is gaining popularity in southern latitudes as a result of Viking travels and today can be found in Romanesque sculptures and woodcarvings.
Urnes Stave Chutch is open to tourist visits only from June to August, visitors here pay an entrance fee.