Stave churches from medieval time can only be seen in Norway
A norwegian Stave Church gives me associations to a gigantic samurai that thrones in full armor in the landscape. On a trip in Norway some years ago we tried to find as many stave churches as we could on our way from Oslo through the county Telemark and to the Western part of the country. We found something like 5 or 6 and they were all worth a visit.
The stave church is not originally a norwegian speciality but it is only in Norway you still can see this magnificent buildings. In Medieval time they were all over Northern Europe but to day they are all gone except in Norway. The oldest stave church in Norway is Urnes Stave Church in Luster and it is on the Unesco`s World Heritage List. Norway has an unique cultural heritage and as a result a big responsibility to make sure they are preserved and cherished. There are 28 stave churches left in Norway and some of them are still living churches with an active congregation. The historians estimates a number of 1000 – 2000 stave churches in Medieval time.
The stave church is not only made of wood the special thing about it is that it has a construction of corner posts = staves and a skeleton or framework of timber with wall planks standing on lying sills. These walls are known as stave walls and therefor the name Stave Church. Many of the stave churches are heavily decorated. Some are simpler but they all have portals with intricate carvings. There are some discussion and disagreements among the experts about the symbols carved on the portals. Some say they are pagan and some say they are a mix of christian and pagan symbols.