Cultural Heritage

The Sister Churches

Situated along Gudbrandsdalsleden
Medieval church location consisting of St. Mary's Church and St. Nicholas Church.



Monday - Sunday, 10.00 - 16.00 (summer)


At the path

Granavollen in Hadeland, Oppland is an old cross road. From here old mainroads from Oslo met, one going through Nittedal and Lunner and one going through Ringerike and Jevnaker. Since the older times have Granavollen been the center of importance for the old Hadacounty which consisted of Hadeland, Toten, Land and possibly the southern part of Valdres.

It was on Granavollen that the important religious center most likely were during the heathen times, today this is where the legend fillen sister churches are now standing. The Nikolai- and Maria church

might be the most famous norwegian village churches. They origin from the 1100, with extensions from the seconf half of the 1200.

The legend tells us about two sister who greatly disapproved of each other and thereby needed two churches, one for each sister. The most likely cause for the reason why there are two churches could be that it was not unusual during the middle ages to have two churches with different functions. The biggest church, Nikolai, is in honor of the travelling peoples statehood, St. Nikolas. With its 250 seats was most likely a county church. The smaller church, Maria, was probably for the parish of Gran. It was built before 1150 and is a long church with Romanesque and gothic style and could fit around 150 people.

Outside the Nikolail church is an old rune stone from around 1850 with the innscriptionn Aun rykius suns put up this (stone) after Aufi’s brother. God help Aufi’s soul. The remaints from two other, similar, stones have been found in the wall of the Nikolai church. The author Aasmund Olavsson Vinje is buried at the Sister churches and in 1873 a memorial was set up on the cemetery. In the southeaster corner is a stone tower from the middle ages still standing. Perhaps it was sued as a defense and escape tower before it became a bell tower.

A couple of hundred meters west for the churches is the Stone house. This building is the only profane house from the middle ages which have been preserved in Norway’s farm country. The house was built at the same time as the churches.

The milestone standing beside the sister churches tells you that there is 533 km left to Nidaros.

Photo: The two sister Churches, the Church of St. Nicholas on the right, and the belfry. John Erling Blad / Wikimedia Commons