Initially the doors of the wooden churches were very narrow.
According to popular legends, it was said that the believer should leave outside the church the bad spirits and the door was seen as a boundary for purification.
The heads of dragons had the role of frightening the bad spirits.
The Gol church, dated to 1212, entered in king’s possesion during the Lutheran reformation, 1536-1537 and was subsequently sold in 1723 in order to raise funds for the Nordic wars.
Bought by two farmers, in 1880 it was decided that the church should be demolished due to the fact that it had become too small for the number of people in the parish.
Saved by the "Fortidmindesmerkeforeningen" (Association for Preservation of Old Structures in Norway), the church was dismantled and moved to Oslo.
With the permission of King Oscar II the church was re-erected in 1885 on the Royal Farm on Bygdoy, the island that today is housing the Norwegian Folkesmuseum.
The full-size replica in Gol has been built in 1994.
The current stave church in Gol it is actually a true copy of the 13th century church that today is found at Norsk Folkemuseum, the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History in Oslo.
The Gol church is located at Storoyni in the centre of Gol and is open for services, weddings and christenings.
Gol is located in the valley of Hallingdal in Buskerud County, in the main road from Oslo to Bergen, the first two, as importance, towns in Norway.
We've reached Gol coming from north, on our way from Stryn to Oslo, after passing the world's longest road tunnel, Laerdanstunnelen (24.5km) and the beautiful Fjaerland and Aurlands regions.
Road distance from Gol to Oslo: 201km.
Even though the wooden churches had structural differences, the features were more or less common.
The Gol Stave Church was organized as a triple level basilica, feature easily to be noticed in the outer walls, constructed on staves (pillars) to support the roof.
In some of the stave churches figures from the old Norse mythology are depicted, often stylized.
I don't have any information about how old is the representation of the Last Supper but certainly it's very interesting to see it in what we have called the "Viking version".
The decorations of stave churches is a combination of Christian designs mixed with Viking motifs, such as the dragon motifs.
Serpents and dragons form the basic element of stave churches decorations.
With the roots in Viking art, it is believe that represent the fight between good and evil showing how the new beliefs have been victorious over the ancient beliefs.
Originally, the Gol Stave Church had a much different appearance.
There was no corridor around the exterior of the Nave, Chancel and Apse.
This was added at the time of re-assembly and is similar to the cloister around the Borgund Stave Church.
The interior of the initial stave churches was narrow and had no seating places.
In the 18th century a new law required that seating should be installed. This was a real problem for some of the old churches which had no place for adding other furniture.
In the front of the church there was only the altar with the cross but in some of them wooden benches were added.
The carving style used to make the decorations was referred to as the Dragon style or Stave Church style.
As their names say, the churches were erected using a technology called stave technique.
This technique consisted in placing the entire wooden structure on sills, put on a foundation made of flat rocks.
This technique is specific for the Norwegian artisans and dates from the early 1100.
Back than using wood had different advantages, such as the fact that the Norwegian forests had plenty supplies of timber, which was far easier to work with than stone and needed less manpower.
A small provincial settlement, Gol is more a village than a town.
Surrounded by a green landscape dominated by mountains and forests, Gol has only 4,500 inhabitans.
Small typical houses, a mall and other small shops, banks, some restaurants and hotels are attracting tourists from all over the world.