Welcome to Heddal Stave Church
Experience Norways largest stave church – a wooden cathedral from the 13th century, still in use as the parish church. Both the exterior and the interior invites you on a time travel back to the fascinating world of the Middle Ages.
Heddal Stave Church is 24 m long, 17 m wide and 29 m tall, with three tall turrets. The building material is ore pine. Around the whole building, you can find an exterior gallery (svalgang), with four entrance portals. The carved ornaments surrounding the doors are lush and mysterious.
Inside the church, there are traces from 800 years with different periods in the church life. Several pieces of furniture from the Middle ages have recently been made available for the public. Their motives constitute a compelling testimony of Norse faith and myth.
Opening hours 2023
- May 5th- June 19th: 10.00–16.00
- June 20th- August 31st: 10.00–17.00
- September 1st – September 20th: 10.00–16.00
- Dates with reduced opening hours:
May 17th: closed, September 2nd: church open 13.00-16.00 and September 3rd: Stave church 14.30–16.00, Cafe: 10.00–16.00 both days.
- The Sundays with service, the church opens for visits 12.15, and the cafe at 10.00. This will apply for these dates:
May 7, 14, 18, 28. June 4. July 2, 23. August 13, 27. , September 17
- Please contact us for visits outside our opening hours
- Tickets for sale in Cafe Olea
- Adult NOK 100,-
- Children (under 16) 30,-
- Student 60,-
- Group ticket (min 15 pax) 90,-
- The exhibitions in the barn are included in the stave church ticket
Heddalsvegen 412, Notodden
Heddal Stavkyrkje og Kafé Olea
O. H. Holtasgate 21
Phone: +47 922 04 435
Cultural history inquiries
Anders Kvåle Rue
Phone: +47 922 04 435
Phone: +47 915 67 600
Yes, follow signs from E134
Toilets, cafe, shop, exhibitions, the barn church
HC-parking by the barn
HC-toilets inside the barn
The barn, with exhibitions and cafe are adapted for wheel chairs
The stave church is unfortunately not wheelchair accessible
Other attractions and accommodation nearby
Heddal Bygdetun, walking distance from the stave church
The waterways of Telemark
The silver mines of Kongsberg
Other articles about the Stave Church
Store Norske Leksikon
Mass and Church services
Notodden kirkelige fellesråd
What to see and experience
Guided tour of the stave church
A guided tour is included in the ticket, in Norwegian or English. Please contact us if you wish guiding in German. In our main season, there are regular tours every hour with some exceptions, such as church services etc. Larger groups are recommended to book in advance.
The guides provide highlights on everything from architecture to history. They are available for questions at any time during your visit.
Welcome to our lovely café by the stave church! This year we have delicious waffels, cakes and more. Groups can prebook lunch. Wifi is free. The café has seating both inside and outside, with a magnificent view to the church.
Here you find the souvenir shop, and buy tickets to the church and the exhibitions. For groups we offer package deals with guiding and a tasteful meal.
The Olea shop
Find your souvenir from Heddal! We offer everything from locally made silver jewellery with stave church motifs to traditional souvenirs and post cards. The shop is in the café.
Pictures of saints, a rich selection of medieval-style jewellery, sheepskin, knight and princess toys and locally produced food and beverages.
The story about Sigurd
Experience the story about Sigurd the dragonslayer, told through medieval furniture, and interesting exhibitions.
The plot is taken from the story of Sigurd the dragon slayer, the story that inspired the motifs of the ornamental furniture in the church.
The Sigurd Furniture
Now you can see the three «Sigurd furniture» that were in the church in the Middle Ages; the Bishops chair, the Bench and the Pulpit. The furniture are decorated by motifs from the saga of Sigurd the Dragon Slayer.
We see both Brunhilde with two suitors on horseback, Sigurd in battle with the dragon Fåvne, and Gunnar in the snake pit. The «Bishop’s chair» has always been in the church, but the other two pieces of furniture ended up at a museum in Oslo in 1882. The «pulpit» was also heavily rebuilt. In 2018-19, there were made a replica and a reconstruction of these missing pieces of furniture. Treskjærerverkstedet AS carried out the work with the same materials and tools as in the 13-14th century.
Saints in Heddal
Prior to the Reformation, the stave church’s interior was adorned with paintings of saints. The exhibition shows both a reconstruction of the original altar and how the paintings in the church may have looked like in the Middle Ages.
The saints portrayed are Saint Agnes, Saint Sunniva, Saint Margretha, Saint Michael, Saint John, Saint Olaf, Saint Halvard. These names were found written on the wood panel in the stave church. Virgin Mary, to which the church was inaugurated, is also depicted in the exhibition.
The Dragon Slayer
Exhibition in Prestegardslåven’s (church barn) lower floor. The legend of Sigurd Fåvnesbane and Brunhilde dates from the Iron Age and has influenced European art from the Viking Age up to Rickard Wagner and J.R.R. Tolkien.
The legend of Sigurd originated in the Iron Age, became widespread in Viking times and flourished further in the Middle Ages. In different parts of the world it evolved differently. The story has inspired artists right up to our time, such as Rickard Wagner and J.R.R Tolkien.
The magnificent altar dates from 1667, with some additions from 1908. Here you will see both the birth of Jesus, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection. Two female figures in sculpture symbolically show the cardinal virtues of wisdom and moderation.
Those who financed the 17th century altar are unknown to us today, but probably they were nobles, as their coats of arms and initials have prominent places. The local artist Olav Fyrileiv made the top part and carved wings in 1908. The top painting, by Lars Osa, was added at the same time.
On top of the internal pillars faces are carved, 23 in total. What role these masks had is unclear to us today, but perhaps they are an element of pre-Christian cultus.
It is difficult to see these “stave masks” without extra light, so feel free to ask the guide to use a flashlight and show you.
A number of crosses and animal heads on spires and gables protects the stave church. Probably, these animal heads should have almost the same task as guard dogs on the farms. In this case, the enemies who were to be intimidated into staying away were invisible.
Many have speculated about what kind of animal the heads should depict. Are they horses, dragons or dogs? Perhaps the answer is that they do not belong to any particular species, but primarily are animalistic guards.
Music in the Barn Church
The church room is on the first floor of the barn. The entrance is free. Here you can relax and have a peaceful moment.
The Barn Church was completed in 1997. It blends harmoniously into the agricultural landscape and houses both café, exhibitions and a church. The altarpiece and liturgical furniture are designed by Tor Lindrupsen. In the church you will also see a copy of the wrought iron chandelier that once hung in the stave church.
The exterior gallery
In the exterior gallery, you can study the wooden carvings and symbolism of four impressive portals. There is information by every door. Here you will also find old arch marks carved, and a mysterious rune inscription.
Originally, women, men and priests entered the church, respectively, through separate doors. The wooden carvings of the portals are burlesque and full of symbolism, and they each have a message.
There is an old legend on how the church was built in only three days!