The stone church at Støle may have been built around 1160 probably as a private chapel for the mighty Stødle clan. It is likely that it was Erling Skakke, the king’s representative and father of king Magnus Erlingsson, who built the church.
Deep down between the stone polished phyllite bedrock in Bordalsgjelet canyon, there is a cascading river. In close cooperation with hard polishing stones, the water has carved into the bedrock for thousands of years - and is still doing so today.
Vangskyrkja (Vangen church) is the largest of the medieval churches in Hordaland; one of the four “fjordung” churches in the county. A royal letter from 1271 shows that the church was under construction at this time. Vossevangen at Vangsvatnet, where the wide and expansive valleys of the Voss communities meet, was the natural location for a church.
Through Adolph Tidemand’s detailed close-ups of smokehouses in Kvam, the vicarage in Vikøy, where he lived during his painting trips through Hardanger, has obtained a central position in the Norwegian national romanticism.
The stave church in Røldal was one of the key pilgrimage churches in West Norway. The church was probably built between 1250 and 1350, and in the high Middle Ages Røldal was the most important destination for pilgrims in the country beside the Nidaros cathedral. It was the crucifix that attracted people to midnight mass on midsummer night. That was when it excreted its miraculous sweat.
Ullensvang church, situated beside the vicarage, in idyllic surroundings on the headland just inside Lofthus municipality, is mentioned for the first time in written sources in 1309. At that time the present Gothic stone church must have been new. Judging by the style in the western portal and the eastern chancel windows, the church must have been built around 1300 or just before, probably by builders from Bergen influenced by the English Gothic style.
The small white-painted chapel with the red brick tiled roof just south of the monastery ruins at Lyse was built in 1663 as a local chapel for the monastery estate, following the takeover of the property by the District Recorder (Stiftskriver) Niels Hanssøn Schmidt two years previously. The chapel, with its harmonic proportions, lies in the cultural landscape beside the grand monastery estate, witness to a time gone by. But even today, there is a tradition of high mass on the 2nd day of Ascension in Lyse Chapel.
In the still and dim church interiors of the Middle Ages the performances of belief came to life in the gleam from the wax candles. Here the essential articles of faith were presented, here the church was presented through holy men and holy women and here the events from the Gospels were told: the angels with Maria, the birth of the baby Jesus, the Three Wise Men, the history of the drama of the Passion and the victorious Christ.