After a splendid drive on the Friisvegen with its beautiful nature, now culture was on the plan. The Stave Church of Ringebu was built around 1220, but reconstructed later also receiving the red tower. Please check the weblink below to get on the official page of the Ringebu Stave Church, where you find the opening hours and more information of its architecture and history.
The Friisvegen is the 'touristic' name of the road (Fv385) leading from the northeast towards Ringebu. Its name originates from the cottage and area that the Norwegian author J. A. Friis stayed in for many years during his holidays. One of his works is directly inspired from his time here.
I enjoyed my drive along this road which leads through a treeless, but hilly area. A very beautiful open landscape, pure nature.
On my drive on the Friisvegen I passed the Friisbua. This is a stone cottage that was built by J. A. Friis who has been an important author of Norway. Friis spent his holidays here in the fjell for many years and wrote a book about this: 'Til fjeld i Ferierne. Jæger og Fiskerliv' (To the mountains on holidays. Hunter and Fishermans Life) The book is said to be a classic of Norwegian outdoor books.
Actually I found out about this after my visit to the place. There I did not take the chance to get a glimpse inside. I don't know if it is possible to visit the cottage.
Just opposite of the Friisbua you will find a nature reserve, which covers the beautiful mountain lakes. Its name is Åstdalstjørna and it mainly consits of wet areas, where many different birds are living. These kind of lakes are important for nature, not just because of the birds and other animals, but they also clean the water. Being here you will notice that not just around the lakes the nature is stunning, but all around aswell. If you are lucky like me, you can see a lemming at the small monument close to the Friisbua. It has found a hole there as its home.
An information board in the area of the Friisbua will give you more information about the reserve.
It happend that I was taking a look at the Friisbua, a hut along the Friisvegen (road Fv385), when something small was running in the grass at a small monument beside me. A careful closer look showed, that it was a Lemming. He disappeared in a hole below the monument. Maybe he or another Lemming keeps living there in the hole when you are visiting the Friisbua.
The church's west doorway, carved in dragon-style, dates from the middle Ages.
Unfortunately this was partially destroyed when the doors were enlarged, around 1820 following the fire in the Grue church in Solor when 113 persons died.
Initially the doors of the wooden churches were very narrow because it was said that one should enter the church without bringing inside the bad spirits and the door was in a certain way the boundary for purification.
The heads of dragons had the role of frightening the bad spirits.
From the entrance in the church courtyard until the entrance in the church the road is passing through a local cemetery.
Some of the graves have old and interesting grave stones and the camp is a sea of colorful flowers.
During the excavations also many coffins, mainly of clerics and their families, were found under the church floor.
Beside these persons also the baroness Sophie Amalie Rosenkrantz who made numerous gifts to the church was buried under the floor.
The German colonel Poul Friedrich von Dresky enrolled in Oppland regiment was also buried in the church.
His Epitaph is hanged in the church together with other two commemorating the parish priests: Christopher Kraft (1754) and his family and Sigward Friis Irgens (1789).
In the archaeological excavation carried out in 1980-1981, 892 coins were discovered under the floor of the church.
Many coins were from the time of Haakon Haakonson (1217-1263) while the rest were mainly German, Swedish and Danish coins.
The oldest coin was from Knut the Great's Danelaw in England, dated in the 1020s.
Some of these coins are presented today in Weidemann collection.
Due to the fact that the church is still used as parish church, a service being held almost daily, in 1982 a new organ was installed.
The present famous Akerman & Lund organ is built in North European baroque style and was inaugurated on June 6th 1982.
Ringebu stave church altarpiece was made by Johannes Lauritsen Skraastad in 1686 and the pulpit is from 1703.
The chandelier was made by the floral master-sculptor from Ringebu, Kristen Listad, at the end of the 18th century.
The church was painted for the first time in 1717 and due to the fact that the ceiling was low it was painted only the lowest part of the walls.
During the years the paintings had been covered when the church was entirely painted in white, but have been completely restored in 1921.
A remain of the old church is also the statue of St. Lawrence (St. Lars in Norwegian) dating from 1250.
The statue is placed on western part of the chapel.
Larsok or St. Lars day (the day of his death) was celebrated on August 10th.
The oldest part of Ringebu church, which is the western part, is dating from the 13th century.
Until the protestant reformation in 1536 the church kept its initial forms. Since then the decorations started to ressemble more to baroque style with impressive sculptures in wood.
In 1630 the church was rebuilt by Werner Olsen, the transept and the specific red tower (added in 1631) being the result of reconstruction.
The west doorway, carved in dragon-style, dates from the middle Ages.
The small town of Ringebu is located 60km north of Lillehammer.
In order to reach the stave church just turn left from the main road (E-6).
Ringebu stave church is located 1km south from the center of the city.