Saturday, February 17

Photo hunters - antique

This is the interior of Torsång church, which is the oldest church in Dalarna, the region of Sweden where I come from. It's believed that the church was built towards the end of the 12th century, and that its position was chosen because it had once, according to legend, been a spot where sacrificial offerings to Thor (Tor), the pagan god of thunder took place. It's interesting to note that whilst Christianity reached Sweden sometime in the 9th century, the strong pagan beliefs meant that it was not until the middle of the 12th century that Christianity became well established. It was very common that churches were built on traditional pagan sites.

The west gable, showing the representation of Thor

Torsång church is very simple, build mainly from granite, while the gables and the upper parts of the friezes, along with buttresses, arches, windows and portal claddings are made of hard-baked tiles. There is an upright male figure on the west gable, which supposedly is a representation of Thor. Inside the church is breathtakingly beautiful, the carved and painted wooden pulpit dates from the early 17th century and there is a simple wood carving of Christ from the 15th century.

The parish of Torsång became an important hub in Dalarna, mainly due to its position, at the junction where lake Runn meets the rivers Västerdalälven and Österdalälven. The copper mine in Falun, the "capital" of Dalarna, depended heavily on timber from the large forests in the eastern and northen parts of the region, and the logs were floated down the rivers and into lake Runn by way of Torsång. In the mid sixties water transport was replaced by other means (mainly rail), and the village of Torsång started to die soon after.

A gravestone from the cemetery

But it is still possible to take an afternoon cruise on lake Runn from Falun to Torsång, something my mother and I inevitably do whenever I go home to visit. And after having coffee and cake or an ice cream in the cafe', it's aweinspiring to walk around grounds of the church and the cemetery, knowing that people have lived in this area since the stone age.


pat said...

Welcome to the Photo Hunt!

Gorgeous looking church and thanks for the history of it.

Daisy said...

What a beautiful photo! Thanks for the interesting background story too. So far, this is the oldest antique I have seen today!

sognatrice said...

Beautiful! The picture, the history, the thought of coffee, cake, and a stroll around the grounds with you and your mom...I would love to join you someday :)

Tracie B. said...

wow! such an old population...can you imagine? and thanks for the history.

great picture!

Kris said...

yours the first i visit for this week's hunt, and I love the mood you've capture..and did you take shots from cemetary?

kris said...

oh, cant read a word on the stones, really ancient!

Cathy said...

I love old churches and your picture of the church's interior is beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

I found your blog because you came to mine. I am so glad I visited to see your photo.

Viamarie said...

Wow! This is really an old church. The oldest here in my country was built in the 15th century.

Cheers to your weekend!

Hootin'Anni said...

This is wonderful!
These photos, especially of the church window, are very awe-inspiring!!!
My antiques photos have been posted. Happy weekend.

superkimbo said...

A beautiful post - both in pictures and in story. Thank you so much for sharing your little corner of Sweden!

We lived in Europe for 5 years before we moved to Malaysia. When I see pictures like this I really miss the history and culture of Europe.

Barbara said...

I loved reading the story along with the pictures. Nine centuries is a very long time for a building to stand. Great pictures.

Expat Traveler said...

wow - this is all so very beautiful. I'm so fascinated by churches... how lovely.. thanks for visiting.

Linda said...

I love the pictures and the history behind them. That looks like someplace I would love to explore if I ever am able to get out out of my own country and see some of the world!

Welcome to the hunt, looking forward to more pictures from you next week!

Leslie said...

Beautiful pictures. The first is especially lovely. There's something almost magical about places that have stood for so long. Excellent choices for "antique."

Welcome to the Photo Hunt!

Jane said...

Thanks for the great pix and the story behind them. I have a gravestone on my PH, too.


eph2810 said...

Thank you so much for sharing these incredible pictures of your homeland. It looks like that this little church is very simple, but yet beautiful When I visit Germany - I love to visit the old churches.

Have a wonderful weekend and welcome to the hunt-bunch.

Mrs Lifecruiser said...

Yes, we really have a lot of very old and beautiful churches / cemetarys here in Sweden!!!! And other buildings too.

I'm very glad that they are so well preserved as they are.

Very nice post!

Soliga hälsningar från huvudstaden

mar said...

Welcome to the photo hunt! loved your pics and the little history lesson, just great.
happy saturday!

Letha Sandison said...

Thank you for sharing this bit of Sweeden. My mom was born there and I have always wanted to go...someday!

srp said...

Welcome to the hunt.
The pictures are breathtaking and the architecture is magnificent. I love the old churches of Europe, whether cathedral or chapel.

TorAa said...

This is my favourite Photo Hunt post so far this week. It tells a very interesting story of the past and drwas lines from pre-christianity to more modern times.

And on top of that, it's something about myself:)) (yes Tor).

Don't forget how many of our present days still have names after the old nordic gods: Tyr, Odin, Thor and Fröy.

Thanks for sharing


meeyauw said...

I really enjoy detailed commentary such as you provided. I thought it was old here! Your church is old!

LibertyBelle said...

Aren't you glad that there are so many old and wonderful buildings still standing and being used in Europe. In my old hometown, most of the beautiful buildings were torn down to make way for new apartment buildings. Sad, isn't it.
Where I live now, the church is from 1272 - now that's old!!
Lovely photo and good choice.
Funny, though, that a church is named for the old Noric god, Thor! Love the story of him and Mjølner, his hammer!
Have a great weekend!
Mine's up!

KatieBelle said...

Gorgeous photos!

Old churches and cemetaries have always fascinated me. This one is especially interesting.

Hope you've had a good weekend!

Edvard Moonke said...

That's beautiful. I'm a big fan of old churches (despite being Agnostic).

Have you ever been to Ripon Cathedral (about 12 miles from where I live)?

It dates back to the 7th century and you can still visit the original crypt underneath the cathedral (if you're not the claustrophobic type).

Check it out here:

Lacithecat said...

Ah ... I totally understand. I live Stoke Newington and we have the most amazing old (and tiny) church alongside a more moden (albeit 100 year old) main church. But its really Abbey Cementary - down the road - that has the flair and beauty of an ancient burial site. Sigh ... I feel blessed to walk its grounds whenever I get an opportunity to.

janniefunster said...

Things like this make me feel so hushed and quiet. Inpires me to get there some day, yes, Sweden's a place I 've always wanted to see.