Since visiting the Sollia church in September I wanted to write a blogpost where I delve further into the history and architecture of this church. Actually said to be one of the most beautiful and best preserved Baroque churches that we have in Norway.
The Sollia Church
The most iconic wooden churches in Norway usually belongs to the category of a Stavkirke (stave church). These are medieval churches built with a special technique of “timber framing where the load-bearing ore-pine posts are called stafr in Old Norse (stav in modern Norwegian).” (Wikipedia)
The Sollia Church however, is not a Stavkirke. It is a timber church yes, but built in a different way. We call it for “lafteverk” in Norwegian, and is when “a structure is built with horizontal logs interlocked at the corners by notching. Logs may be round, squared or hewn to other shapes, either handcrafted or milled.” (Wikipedia). This technique of constructing log buildings was the main building technique in Norway up until the early 1900s.
The area around Sollia Church is called Atnedalen (The Atne Valley), and was inhabited at the end of the 1600s. As there was no church at that time the people who lived in this valley had to walk over the mountain to Ringebu. This was a long and strenuous walk, especially in the winter. In 1720 it also became prohibited by law to visit your nearest church at least twice a year, so not much of a choice. At one time a group of church goers traveling to the Ringebu church ended up freezing to death. This become a turning point, and an application was sent to the King (in Denmark at that time), to build a new church in Sollia. This was around year 1731/32, and the application was approved within a year, but no funding to build the church was provided. The locals themselves therefor acquired a piece of land for the church, and stone and timber was donated so that the building could start.
The Church was inaugurated on the 7th of September 1738. It had been built by a man called Jon Jonsen, and he did so without any drawings.
During the 1700s the population grew, and the church was expanded with an extra gallery in 1770 on the north side, and in 1840 the church was expanded towards the west.
The rather humble outer appearance does not really prepare you for what you will see on the inside. The interior is fully decorated. All roofs and walls are nicely painted. In the ceiling there are clouds, and in the choir ceiling Christian the 6th Royal monogram and angels holding a laurel wreath with text. Above the chancel arch of the ship, God’s eye is flanked by two painted frames with Bible verses and two angels with a scripture.
I think I will leave it with that short description of the interior, and insert some images that I took. Hopefully some day you will have the chance to visit this beautiful church for yourself.
Thanks for reading.