5 Korskirken (Holy Cross Church)

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The church of the Holy Cross (Korskirken) viewed from the south (photo Justin Kroesen)

Two Romanesque churches stood near the inner harbour of Vågen. One of these, St Michael’s, burned down at the beginning of the fifteenth century. The church of the Holy Cross (Korskirken) survives.

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The church of the Holy Cross viewed from the northeast (photo Justin Kroesen)

It was built during the first half of the twelfth century as a single-nave rectangular church with no tower.

Romanesque frieze on the south side of the chancel (photo Justin Kroesen)
Romanesque frieze on the south side of the chancel (photo Justin Kroesen)

Renaissance portal in the north transept (photo Justin Kroesen)
Renaissance portal in the north transept
(photo Justin Kroesen)

Important parts of the original soapstone masonry are still visible on the north side, while a Romanesque frieze showing close affinities with St Mary’s church can be seen on the south side of the chancel.

The church suffered damage from many fires and each rebuilding led to a series of changes. The present west tower (with bells cast in Amsterdam) and the transepts were added during the seventeenth century. The portal of the northern transept shows the heraldry of its sponsor, Jens Juel, and the insignia of the Danish-Norwegian King Christian IV. It is among the finest specimens of Renaissance architecture in Norway.

The interior of the church of the Holy Cross viewed from the west (photo Justin Kroesen)
The interior of the church of the Holy Cross viewed from the west (photo Justin Kroesen)

The present furnishings, including the organ made by the German Albert Hollenbacher, date from the 1890s. Around 2000 the church interior was altered again to create more room for cultural activities.

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From the church’s chancel, follow Kong Oscars gate in southeastern direction until you reach Domkirkeplassen (c. 200 m)

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