- Engelbrekt Church was inaugurated in 1914
- It was built in National Romantic style using natural materials
- The church’s columbarium was opened in 1961
On the streets located in and around the north-western parts of the Stockholm’s Östermalm district, there are a plenty of notable examples of beautiful Swedish architecture from around the turn of the 20th century. The red-brick facades in the area create a unique environment that gives an exclusive impression to its visitors. In this post, we look at another remarkable structure standing in the neighbourhood, namely the Engelbrekt Church.
Many parts of Stockholm, including Östermalm, experienced a rapid increase in population during the last few decades of the 1800s. That resulted in the construction of many new churches all around the city in a relatively short time period and also some organisational changes to the local parishes.
This was also the case of the existing Hedvig Eleonora Parish to which the land on which Engelbrekt Church stands had long belonged. However, in 1906, a decision was made to divide this parish and create two additional ones. That is when the Oscar’s Parish as well as the Engelbrekt Parish were born.
Although the first church that stood ready in the new parish named after the medieval statesman Engelbrekt Engelbrektsson was the Hjorthagen Church (Hjorthagens kyrka) completed in 1909, the authorities had started planning the parish church years earlier.
Even before the parish officially existed, the city issued a permit for the construction of a church in the area known as Lärkstaden. An architectural contest for the design of the church was subsequently announced in 1905. Apart from the church, the submitted proposals were required to contain a design of the planned Parish House.
Lars Israel Wahlman, an architecture professor at the Royal Institute of Technology (Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan), won the contest with his proposal named ‘A flower with a twig.’ Only slight changes had been made to his original proposal before the foundation stone was laid in 1910. Probably the most significant change was the removal of one tower of the originally proposed pair.
While the Engelbrekt Church (Engelbrektskyrkan) had only received one tower, there is another church in Stockholm, the Högalid Church (Högalids kyrka), built about a decade later in a similar style where you can observe how a pair of towers can look.
An interesting detail that you can admire from different parts of the city is that around the time when this church was built, the tradition of blasting hills intended for construction was abandoned. Instead, the natural features of the landscape were incorporated into the design, thanks to which Engelbrekt Church, and several others, received a dominant position on the city landscape.
The aforementioned Parish House was completed as early as 1911 whereas the works on the church continued until early 1914. The structure with a red-brown brick façade so typical of the National Romantic architectural style was inaugurated on 25 January 1914.
Bricks were complemented with other natural materials including granite and oak. The materials are also what creates a seamless connection between the church’s exterior and its interior. On the outside, you can admire the base made of granite and other natural stones as well as decorated granite portals and massive staircases accompanying every entrance of the Engelbrekt Church.
In the interior, on the other hand, the same material was used for the floors, arcs and other decorative elements. Benches and doors made of smoked oak create a beautiful contrast with and add a welcome feeling of cosiness to the cold stone. Metals like copper, silver, and gold were used for more exclusive decorative elements including the copper lantern that sits on the tower and is topped with a gilded cross. Several golden details can be found in the interior, too.
Wahlman himself designed large parts of the interior and furnishing but he also collaborated with some of the most notable Swedish artists of the time including Olle Hjortzberg and Filip Månsson. Their paintings decorate the subtle interior of the church and make it slightly more colourful and vibrant.
An element which was not a part of the original design of the church is the columbarium located by the entrance from Karlavägen. It was created in a former shelter from World War II following plans drawn by architect Åke Tengelin and opened in 1961. The columbarium is approximately 40 metres long, 8 metres wide and thanks to its 3-metre-high ceiling formed by the stones of the hill itself, it has a unique cave-like character.
Today, there is space for roughly 7,000 urns in 1,500 niches in the columbarium at the Engelbrekt Church. The most dominant element in the room is the big gilded cross standing at its end, though. It is surrounded by a few rows of chairs, a marble altarpiece and a wooden crucifix which all complement the atmosphere of this unique place.
Architect Wahlman is responsible for a number of churches in Sweden and abroad including Tranås Church, Östersund Church, and the Swedish Church in Oslo, Norway. He also led reconstructions of some of the most remarkable churches in Stockholm such as Oscar’s Church, Maria Magdalena Church, and Sofia Church.
However, Engelbrekt Church is rightly considered Wahlman’s most prominent work, which is also why this structure is recognised internationally as a notable example of the Swedish Art Noveau (Jugendtid) and National Romanticism.
That is all for the story of the Engelbrekt Church in Stockholm but if you are hungry for more interesting stories, simply check out some of the places mentioned in this post or other posts on our blog. Remember that you can support us and entertain your dear ones by sharing our content with them.
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Lindhagen, Suzanne, 2008 [Svenska kyrkan. Stockholms stift]. Engelbrektskyrkan.