- Bromma Church from the late 1100s is one of the oldest buildings in Stockholm
- It is one of three fortress churches in Stockholm
- Today, the church consists of 7 parts from different eras
- Medieval parts are the ones with un-plastered façades
Recently, I have covered the origins of Stockholm and how it had become the most important city in the region. In that post, however, I only talked about the historical centre of the city where most of the action had happened. Perhaps surprisingly, though, some of the oldest buildings in the Swedish capital do not stand in the Old Town (Gamla stan) nor anywhere nearby.
One of the buildings belonging in this category is Bromma Church (Bromma kyrka), which was probably built in the 1160s, maybe a little later, during the 1170s. This very unusual church standing in an area with a rather rural feel has been developed in many stages to become what it is today. While the contrast between different parts of the building is strong, it is also likely what gives the construction its unique appearance and a very strong character.
Today, Bromma Church consists of seven parts. Pretty much all of them were built during a different period but, in my opinion, they seem to work together very well. At least until you start examining them more closely, which is what we are about to do.
The roundhouse, which is likely to catch your attention first, is not only the tallest part of the church but also the oldest. This is the original building built in the late 12th century as both a church and a defence structure. At the time, the idea of the so-called fortress churches was not so unusual. All of the remaining fortress churches in the Stockholm diocese were built roughly at the same time as the castle on top of the Old Town. Apart from Bromma Church, these include Solna Church (Solna kyrka) and Munsö Church (Munsö kyrka), which are all round churches meaning that their core is formed by a roundhouse just like the one at Bromma Church.
Later during the Middle Ages, the longhouse on the roundhouse’s western side and the sacristy on the northern side were added. It is easy to remember that these three are the oldest parts of the church as they are the ones with un-plastered façades and exposed granite stones. Notice also how individual windows are incorporated into the façade differently.
The northernmost part of the church, attached to the sacristy, is the crypt built for the Hjärne family in the early 18th century. Soon after, another crypt was added on the eastern side of the roundhouse for the Stierncrona family, who lived in Åkeshov Castle (Åkeshofs slott) not so far from the church.
The latest additions, standing on the western side of the church, were built fairly recently in the 1960s. These are the porch attached to the longhouse and an underground crypt, which is the last of the church’s seven parts. As you can see, the different parts of Bromma Church have been built over the course of pretty impressive nine centuries.
I have mentioned that you can remember which parts of the church are medieval thanks to their distinct façades. However, there is another interesting element that you should notice. The entire church is covered by a green copper roof, which creates a nice contrast with the white walls. While the material used is everywhere the same, every part of the building is covered by a different type of roof.
On top of the roundhouse, you can see a curved ‘cap’ roof with a wooden lantern and a spire from 1681. The longhouse is covered by a mansard roof also known as French roof. Both sacristy and porch have gable roofs but while the one on top of sacristy is steep, the porch’s roof is much flatter. Finally, the eastern crypt has a hip roof and the older, northern one has a more decorated, six-sided roof with a lantern.
Now, when you start noticing these differences, you likely realise that the church is not so homogeneous as you might have thought. The unique way in which Bromma Church has been built is probably what makes the buildings itself so unique, too.
This is not only true from the outside, though. The same thing can be said about the church’s interior even though most of the rooms have light-painted walls. In spite of numerous reconstructions, the differences between plastering techniques in different time periods are still visible. Still, the most distinct room is indeed the one located inside the longhouse. The walls there, are entirely covered by 15th-century paintings that were renovated early in the 1900s.
These paintings are only one of the myriad of things with a great cultural, historical, and artistic value that can be found in Bromma Church today.
Even after many centuries of its existence and countless sensitive reconstructions, the building preserves its unique historical character. It is located well off the traditional path of tourists and visitors exploring Stockholm, perhaps it remains undiscovered by many locals, too. This, however, has some great advantages which make this place surrounded by a calm rural environment a great location to add to your bucket list.
I believe that this post will inspire some of you to visit Bromma Church and maybe even other interesting attractions in the Bromma district located in western Stockholm. We are always working on new stories, so make sure to stop by again sometime to learn more about places you might be passing by every day and never stop to appreciate.
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Stockholms stift, 2008. Bromma kyrka.
Haglund, Stig, Arensberg, Rolf, 1979. Kyrkor i Stockholm