Riddarholm Church (Stockholm): Evoking pre-Reformation Sweden, this is one of the best-preserved Franciscan churches left in northern Europe. After being consecrated at the turn of the 14th century, it served for centuries as the mausoleum for Swedish royalty. The church's cast-iron steeple, which dates from 1841, remains one of the most distinctive landmarks of the Stockholm skyline. The interior is especially impressive; coats of arms of knights of the Order of Seraphim, founded in 1336, cover the walls. The floor is paved with gravestones. After you visit the church, you can walk through Stockholm's Old Town, Gamla Stan.
Uppsala Domkyrka (Uppsala): This twin-spired Gothic structure, nearly 120m (394 ft.) tall, was constructed in the 13th century. Today the silhouette of this largest cathedral in Scandinavia dominates the landscape, affording Uppsala the status of ecclesiastical capital of Sweden. Its layout is simple compared with other major European cathedrals, yet its high Gothic aura is nevertheless impressive. In one of the chapels on the south aisle, you can visit the tomb of the philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772).
Domkyrkan (Cathedral of Lund; Lund): The apex of Romanesque architecture in Sweden, this imposing twin-towered gray sandstone cathedral is one of the most ancient in Sweden. Building on it started sometime in the 1080s by King Canute II, though it wasn't consecrated until 1145. Some of the sculptural details of its architecture evoke Lombardy or other parts of Italy. This is especially evident in its apse, which dates from the 1130s.
Vadstena Abbey (Vadstena): Sweden's greatest abbey, on the shores of Lake Vättern, is dedicated to its patron saint, St. Birgitta. In the Middle Ages, the abbey was at the center of a pilgrimage, which earned it the appellation of "Rome of the North." One of the most important stopovers for those taking the Göta Canal trip, Vadstena is dominated by its Klosterkyrkan, or Abbey Church, built between the mid-14th and 15th centuries to the specifications of its founder, St. Birgitta herself. This Gothic church is rich in art and relics from the Middle Ages.
Kiruna Kyrka (Kiruna): This church in the far north of Sweden, in the midst of Lapland, would hardly make it in the grand cathedral circuit of northern Europe. It is, however, one of the most unusual churches in the world and raises a lot of eyebrows at first sight. It was constructed in 1912 like a stylized Sami tent, with an origami design of rafters and wood beams. In Lapland, it is hailed as "the Shrine of the Nomadic people." A free-standing bell tower in front is supported by props and the tombstone of the founder of Kiruna. The altarpiece scene representing Paradise as a Tuscan, not Lappish, landscape is the only incongruous note.
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