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St. Nicolai and St. Maria


Sister Churches at Granavollen

Photo taken by Lag member Brian Christensen


According to local folklore, the two churches were commissioned by two sisters who had fallen out and therefore would not be seen in the same church. However, in the Middle Ages it was not unusual for churches to be built side by side and used for different functions. Archeologists have determined that there were sister churches in Bergen and Trondheim, but the Sister Churches at Granavollen are the only twin churches in Norway that have survived to the present day.


Photo taken by Lag member Linda Lee Larson


Maria and Nicolai - the "Sister" Churches

360 degree Panoramic Vew of the Churches

(requires Quicktime)

by Alan Billyeald

Nicolai Church


Nicolai Church, located at the ancient crossroads of Granavollen, was named for Archbishop Nicolaus of Bari, protector of travelers and children. The church dates to the mid-1100's; an 1151 AD bill still kept in the Vatican mentions Nicolai Church. It is the more imposing of the sister churches. 

On August 4, 1799 St. Nicolai Church was struck by lightening.  Fixtures were destroyed, but the church was restored. A major restoration project that was completed in 1960 restored the choir to its original smaller size and half-circle shape.  The 1728 pulpit was rebuilt and returned to its place, along with an altarpiece from 1625. Nicolai is used as the parish church. 

Maria Church is the less ornate "older sister." Named for the Virgin Mary, she dates from around 1100. There are slices and joints in the masonry that indicate it has been altered many times.  A fire devastated the church in 1813 and it stood in ruins until 1865 when the roof was replaced.  Until 1978, Maria Church was used first for storage and later as a funeral chapel.  Services are held in the church each summer.



St Maria Church

Photo taken by Lag member Barb Schmitt




St Nicolai Altar

St Nicolai Altar

Photo taken by Lag Member Diane Resvick


St. Nicolai Pulpit


Photo taken by Lag Member Gerald Zeisemer

Photo taken by Lag Member Diane Resvick


Interior of St Maria


Interior of Maria Church



Runestone behind St. Nicolai 

A runestone located in the cemetery behind St. Nicolai church is believed to date from 1050.


The inscription reads: Synir Aunar ryklu reistu (ep)tir Aufa bródur sinn. Hjalpi Gud sál Aufa


Translation: Aunar's sons erected (the stone) in memory of Aufi, his brother. God have mercy on Aufi's soul.


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Last update: February 08, 2021