Travel Tip: Fantoft Stave Church

The Norwegian Stave Churches are some of the most beautiful and characteristic buildings in all of Norway, and a big symbol of the cultural heritage of the country. Most of the stave churches are found in the fjord regions, but you don’t actually need to leave Bergen to experience a beautiful stave church for yourself. This is because Fantoft Stave Church is sitting on top of a hill in the middle of Bergen!

Fantoft Stave Church is a replicate of the original stave church that was burnt down in 1992. The replica Stave Church is located in the middle of Bergen, so it’s a great method of seeing a stave church without the hassle of driving for hours to find one.

Even though Fantoft Stave Church is a replica, you would not think so when you see it. The intricate carvings and amazing architecture is still in place, and it looks just as good as the original. Some of the original building materials that were saved from the fire was also reused, but most of it was lost in the fire.

Fantoft stave church at night
Fantoft stave church at night. Photo by: Jaru-eri / CC BY-SA 4.0.

We’re going to take a closer look at Fanfoft Stave Church’s history, what it’s like to visit it, and how to see the stave church for yourself!

What makes Fantoft Stave Church worth a visit

Fantoft Stave Church is a great place to stop by if you’re in Bergen. You get to experience a modern replication of a real stave church, but the replica is so good that most people would never know it was a replica unless they knew it already.

The good thing about this stave church is that it’s in the middle of Bergen, so you don’t need to rent a car and drive 5 hours to get to a stave church if you are based in Bergen for your visit. Most of the other stave churches near Bergen are pretty difficult and time consuming to reach by public transportation, and even driving there is a bit of a hassle since you need to cross the fjords with ferries and drive along narrow and difficult roads.

Read more: Stave Churches near Bergen.

Not only is Fantoft Stave church very easy to access, but it’s also a really beautiful stave church with a bit of a controversial history. It is one of the most photographed buildings in all of Bergen, and it is visited by thousands of tourists every single summer.

Fantoft stave church in winter
Fantoft stave church in winter. Photo by Svein-Magne Tunli – / CC BY-SA 3.0.

Visiting Fantoft Stave Church

Fantoft Stave Church is easily accessible in Bergen, and it’s one of the most visited stave churches in the country. You can take a look at it from outside at any point during the day and year, but the inside is only open to the public in the summer season between 10:30 and 18:00.

You need to pay 70 NOK in admission to see the inside of the stave church (30 NOK for children), but it’s money well spent. It can also be visited free of charge if you have the Bergen Card.

When you pay for admittance, you get to spend as much time as you like inside the church, and can look at all the incredible details for however long you wish. However, the church is not particularly big, so you probably don’t need much longer than 20 or 30 minutes there.

Fantoft Stave Church’s history

Fantoft Stave Church was originally built in Fortun in Sogn around year 1150, but was moved to Fantoft in Bergen in 1883 since Fortun needed the space for a newer church. This might sound strange, but this was back before it was popular to take care of old, historic buildings.

The stave church became a popular place to visit in Bergen, and was so until it was destroyed in 1992.

During the summer of 1992, the entire stave church was burnt to the ground in a huge blaze of fire. This was only one of several stave churches that was burned down in the surrounding time period, and the black metal community was blamed (and took the blame).

Varg Vikernes, also known as Count Grishnackh from the black metal band Burzum was trailed for the fire, but there was not enough evidence to put him in jail for the arson. He did put a photo of the ashen ruins of the church on his next album cover, and is still believed by many to have been the person behind the fire.

It was quickly decided that Fantoft Stave Church should be rebuild, but that was easier said than done. It turned out that no one really knew how to make stave churches any longer, since no new stave churches had been made for several hundred years.

This lead to a lot of problems that needed to be solved, but after some long years with a lot of hard work, the new replica of Fantoft Stave Church is in its place. It was not until 1997 that the new church opened to the public. It’s not just an imitation, but a real replication of the church, so it’s just as real as the other stave churches, just a lot newer.

Fantoft stave church
Fantoft stave church. Photo by Rosser1954 / CC BY-SA 4.0.

How to get to Fantoft Stave Church

Fantoft Stave Church is in Bergen, so your first order of business is to get to Bergen. This is a huge city, so there are buses and trains from most other bigger cities in Norway to Bergen.

The church is located a little distance south from the main city center, but it can easily be reached by Bybanen (the light rail train) or by bus. Bybanan is the easiest option.

To get from anywhere in Bergen to Fantoft Stave Church, get on the Bybanen in the direction towards the airport (if you are in or close to the city center). Get off at the stop called Fantoft, then follow the sings towards the church.

The walk from Fantoft stop to the stave church is a bit steep, but only a few minutes long. It’s also possible to get to the stave church by departing Bybanen at the Paradis stop, but the ascent is even steeper in this direction.

Bybanen departs pretty much every 5 minutes during the day, and every 15 minutes during the night, so it’s never a long wait to get to it. The travel time is around 20 minutes, and the price for riding Bybanen is 40 NOK per adult.

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