With magnificent portals and exquisite paintings from the 13th century

When you enter Torpo stave church, your eyes are drawn to the lofty space with unique medieval paintings on the decorated canopy. Christ, the apostles and the legend of Saint Margaret are painted in clear, strong colours with black contours on the canopy, a magnificent barrel vault under which there used to be a gallery for the reading of scripture.
60,6640174 8,7083213
Torpovegen 517, Torpo, 3579

Torpo, Buskerud (Viken)

Owned by the National Trust of Norway since 1880.

Magnificent external portals with vines and dragons. The church has been dated to the last half of the 12th century and was built on a church site with long-standing traditions. On the western and southern sides of the building, we find two magnificent portals with carved vines and dragon motifs. Wood carvings of the same type as the 11th-century Urnes style below the floor of the present church suggest that an older church has stood on the same site. According to a runic inscription in the church, it was built by Torolf and nine other named persons. The nave is what survives of the original stave church after the chancel and apse were torn down in 1880. The external gallery around the nave and chancel was removed at an earlier date. The church is lofty with a raised roof in the central space, where 14 staves rest on a frame of sill beams.

The unique canopy. Only the large, exquisitely decorated barrel vault remains of the medieval church interior, which used to include side altars in the nave and a gallery from which scripture was read (lectorium) with a spiral staircase leading up to it. The canopy contains some of the oldest painted decoration in Norway.

Saved from destruction. In 1878, plans were made to expand the church. When the National Trust of Norway pointed out that the planned alterations would be detrimental to the valuable building, the local council decided in 1880 to build a new church instead. The new church was built north of the stave church, on the plot where the stave church's belfry once stood, and the National Trust took over the stave church.

Things to do in the area. Torpo is located in Ål in Hallingdal, midway between Bergen and Oslo. This area boasts spectacular nature with a wealth of opportunity to engage in outdoor pursuits both in summer and winter. Visit Norway 

Sources: En reise gjennom norsk byggekunst, ed. Terje Forseth. National Trust of Norway 1994/ Directorate for Cultural Heritage;Torpo stavkyrkje /Documentation of the Stave Church Preservation Programme. Directorate for Cultural Heritage 2016 /

The legend of Saint Margaret