Travel Tip: Heddal Stave Church

Heddal Stave Church is arguably one of the most beautiful stave churches in Norway, and it’s no wonder that this wooden church attracts thousands of tourists every single year.

The stave church itself is located just 10 minutes away from the small city called Notodden, making it one of the stave churches closest to Oslo.

Heddal Stave Church is a great stave church to visit for tourists; it’s easy to get to by public transport, it’s the biggest stave church in Norway, and it’s incredibly beautiful!

Heddal Stavkirke. Photo by Micha L. Rieser.

We will be looking closer at the amazing Heddal Stave Church in this article, including how to get there, how much it costs to see it, and when the best time to visit it. So keep reading if you’re planning on visiting the incredible stave church on your next visit to Norway!

What makes Heddal Stave Church worth a visit

The wooden stave churches of Norway are something truly unique to Scandinavia, and without a doubt a sight to behold. Heddal Stave Church is the biggest of all of the stave churches in Norway, and the one you absolutely will want to visit.

If the beautiful architecture is not enough for you, visit during the opening times to go inside and see the inside for yourself. This is highly ornamented, and most of the ornamentation are from the 13th century.

This was a time when pagan traditions were in direct conflict with the new Christian rituals, and this affected most of the ornamentation in the church. There were estimated to be around 1,000 stave churches in Norway during the Middle Ages, but only around 30 remain to this day.

So not only is Heddal Stave Church one of very few stave churches, but it’s also the biggest of all of them. The base is 25×17 meters, and the height is an incredible 29 meters.

One of the cool things about Heddal Stave Church is that it’s still used, so it’s not just for show. It’s in use like any regular church, and has been this way for several hundred years. This means that it has a Sunday sermon, and can be booked for a regular church wedding.

Altar at Heddal Stave church
Altar at Heddal Stave church. Photo by Concierge.2C / CC BY-SA 3.0.

The history of Heddal Stave Church

Heddal Stave Church was constructed during the 13 century, and the legend claims that it was erected in three days by five farmers who decided to build a church.

All the stave churches in Norway were erected during the 11th, 12th and 13th century as Christianity began to replace the Norse mythology. These stave churches included elements from both Christianity as well as using traditional viking construction techniques to make the churches more familiar.

The stave churches were used as a place of worship, pretty much like any other church in the world.

It’s incredibly difficult to keep the stave churches in good conditions since wood will decay over time, so Heddal Stave Church has seen several phases of renovation. The first one was between 1849 and 1851, while the newest restoration took place in the 1950s.

As mentioned earlier, Heddal Stave Church has been in operation all the time from its original construction, with a few exceptions when it has been renovated. So be aware that it’s still a place of worship, so please be respectful when you are visiting the church.

Heddal Stave Church in the 1880s
Heddal Stave Church in the 1880s. Photo by Axel Lindahl/Norwegian Museum of Cultural History / PD Norway-50.

How to get to Heddal Stave Church

Heddal Stave Church is just under 2 hours away from Oslo by car, and it’s actually pretty easy to get to it.

If you are travelling to Heddal Stave Church by car, drive south on E18 until you get to Drammen. Change to E134 towards Kongsberg there, and keep on E134 towards Notodden when you pass by Kongsberg. Keep driving on E134 even when you get to Notodden, and you will arrive at the church in about 10 minutes.

You can easily see the stave church from the road, so it’s very difficult to miss.

It’s also possible to get to Heddal Stave Church by public transport, and there are both buses and trains that operates between Notodden and most of the cities in South-Eastern Norway.

So just ride a bus or the train to Notodden, then change to a local bus to Heddal Stave Church from there. Bus lines 4, 305 and 301 all go between Notodden and the stave church.

It’s also worth mentioning that Nor-way Bussekspress’ line NW 180 between Oslo and Bergen actually has a stop at Heddal Stave Church.

Heddal stave church
Heddal stave church. Photo by Christian Barth / CC BY-SA 3.0.

Visiting Heddal Stave Church: Opening Times and Admission Price

You can visit and see Heddal Stave Church all year long if you just want to take a look at it from the outside, but it’s open for tourists during the summer season.

Heddal Stave Church is open to the public between May 13 and September 20, and there are guided tours every hour. You can choose to attend one of these guided tours, or just explore the church yourself.

Tickets cost 90 NOK for adults ($9 USD) and 30 NOK ($3 USD) for children. You can buy the ticket at Kafé Olea, the small coffee shop just besides the main church.

The opening times vary a bit from month to month, but it typically opens between 10.00 and 16.00. It opens later during the Sunday when there’s a regular sermon. Keep in mind that the church might be closed on certain days or hours because of wedding ceremonies.

The church also urges everyone to get in contact if you want to visit outside of the regular opening times. They seem to be really nice towards helping everyone out.

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