Granhult kyrka (= church) is the most beautiful church I ever saw. Yes, even compared to Basilica San Marco’s glittering splendor. It is the simple beauty, the painted wooden interior, which made this little church so exceptional for me. From the outside it looks rather simple, covered all over with weathered shingles. I found the birch trees left and right of the entrance very cute, something like a welcome sign, or maybe a remains of last midsummer?
According to the leaflet, the church was built around 1220, completely in wood. Inside it is painted all over: walls, ceilings, the chancel, the little vestry. Many of the paintings are of “newer” date (17-18th century) though, but this didn’t take away the really breathtaking feeling I had inside. The paintings on the main ceiling are depicting God’s throne in heaven (see photo). The ones in the vestry are scenes of the Old Testament, mainly Adam and Eve in paradise and Abraham’s sacrifice, painted by the artist Johan Christian Zschotzscher. There is an interesting little opening in the chancel (closed now) which, according to the information displayed outside of the church, is a hagioscope, a hole through which people who were not allowed to enter the church, either because they were sick or because they had committed a crime, could watch the mass. On the wall opposite of the altar is a little statue, of St. Olaf (of Norway) with axe and a figure below his feet. It is quite interesting to read about him on Wikipedia (see link) because it explains a lot about early Scandinavian history.
Take your time to visit this church. It won’t be crowded, and the people who come for a visit will respect the serenity. When I was there, everyone who entered the church was speechless in view of these magnificent paintings and atmosphere.
The church is open daily and there is no entrance fee. But it would be good to leave a donation in the little box below the St. Olaf statue. I found the sign there very much moving and it served the purpose:
You have seen me and maybe admired me,
I am old and fragile, please help to maintain me,
Please put a coin in the box,
That’s what the church’s committee is asking for. Thanks.
If you like, you can look at the six albums below, it will give you more ideas of the church’s interior and the surroundings.
From Växjö, drive northeast, direction Lenhovda. It is north of Lenhovda, on road 31, between the villages/hamlets of Vithult and Markhult on the eastern side of the road. There is a sign which says Granhults k:a (k:a = kyrka, church), but it is a white sign, not a brown one with reference to historical sights (which is do not understand due to this beauty of the church). After turning off road 31, it is approx. 1 km to drive/walk/cycle.
Location of Granhult kyrka on Google Maps.
© Ingrid D., April 2011 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.)