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Bø i Telemark


  • Stasjonsvegen 26, Bø i Telemark
  • +47 35061040
  •  /  km From You

Bø's "Old Church" belongs to a series of stone churches built in round, Romantic style in Norway from the early middle ages. Several of such churches can be found in Telemark, such as in Seljord, Kviteseid, and Bø. Their uncanny similarities suggest that they were built by the same people. The church in Bø was built around 1180 and was dedicated to St. Olaf. The semi-circle apse in the chancel was added at a later date. Some of the fixtures remaining from the middle ages are the cross over the chancel, a forged iron chandelier, and a three-panel carved wood altar, with the crowning of Mary featured in the middle panel. The niches with arched vaults on each side of the chancel doors are presente as well, even though they no longer have a practical function as side altars. Following the Reformation, the door on the south wall (which during the Catholic time was probably a processional door) was partially walled up to form a small window. One can also see out through the simple and beautiful entry portal, and two other windows were widened to serve the purpose of letting in light, which was necessary for the “new” Lutheran services in which reading the Bible was important. The church has slowly acquired the interior it now has. The oldest pew bears an inscription from 1579, and in the chancel on both sides of the altar are interesting panel paintings from around 1650 which illustrate a Bible verse or proverb. The pulpit and portal, the west gallery, and the altar table are also from the 1650s, and the painting on them was done from 1685—1687 in rich and deep colors that contrasted well with the white walls. The altar table has several depictions: Christ on the cross is in the center, and above it the triangle with the eye of God and they name Yahweh written in Hebrew. The pulpit and portal have inscriptions of Bible verses, and on the portal we see a depiction of Christ as ruler of the universe with the world in his hand. The gallery has nine biblical depictions of important happenings in the Bible, from creation to the apocalypse. The cathedral architect William Swensen described the characteristics of the Bø church in an article in which he stated: “It has something unique which hurls against a cathedral’s extravagant grandeur of stone blossoms and sculptures of towers and pinnacles—it has the purity and grace of flowers of the field and holy simplicity, which is perhaps the most difficult thing to attain in art.”

  • Last Updated:
  • Source: Reisemål Bø AS
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Bø i Telemark, Norway
The latitude and longitude
59° 24' 34" N / 9° 3' 14" E
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