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 Røldal Stave Church

Røldal Stave Church (Røldal stavkyrkje) is located in the village of Røldal. The church is part of the Røldal parish in the Hardanger og Voss deanery in the Diocese of Bjørgvin. The church is a preserved historic museum, but it is still a regularly-used parish church that holds regularly scheduled worship services twice a month.

The estimated construction date of the Church is generally suggested to be between 1200 and 1250. A baptismal font in the church is dated to the same period. A crucifix in the church dates from about 1250. The altarpiece dates to 1629. It was the design of German born painter Gottfried Hendtzschel from Breslau in Silesia.

The Church has a rectangular-shaped nave and chancel. The baptismal font is of soapstone and dated 1200-1300 century. The Bergen Museum holds a variety of building components and other artifacts from the medieval church. These include altar frontal and wooden sculptures of St. Olaf from about 1250, of the Virgin Mary with child from about 1250, and the Archangel Michael, dated about 1200. In the Middle Ages, Røldal Church received large donations from many of pilgrims who flocked to the church. As a result, the small village where the church is located, became quite prosperous. In the 17th century the walls inside the church were richly decorated with paintings.

During reconstruction of the church in 1844, some of the history of the church was uncovered. This led to an investigation to determine how the church was built. The resulting belief is that Røldal Stave Church was quite different from other stave churches. Some controversy developed about whether this is in fact a stave church or rather an example of the assumed predecessor type, a post church.

From 1913 to 1918, the church underwent an extensive renovation and restoration. Paneling from the 19th century was removed and the Renaissance interior was restored. A new gallery was also built around the church to protect the wall tables. The church reconstruction was led by Norwegian architect Jens Zetlitz Monrad Kielland (1866–1926), and the color restoration was performed by Norwegian painter Domenico Erdmann (1879–1940), who was assisted by Norwegian painter Alfred Obert Hagn (1882–1958), and Danish-Norwegian artist Ulrik Hendriksen (1891–1960).

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