Saturday, 15 August 2009

What to see: Karlstad Cathedral, Karlstad

With its population of about 60,000, Karlstad is the main city of the Swedish province of Wermelandia and was made a cathedral city by Queen Christina in 1647. A new church had been built in Karlstad after the 14th century church had burned down in 1616, but this church also burnt down in 1719.
A new location was found and the present cathedral was begun in 1723 by Jonas Fristedt, but completed by Christian Haller, a master bricklayer from Germany. It was inaugurated on 2 July 1730, but the western tower was not built until 1734-1737. In fact the cathedral had an unfinished appearance until King Gustaf III ordered the architect Erik Palmstedt to carry out a thorough renovation in 1791-1792.
The cathedral is in the shape of a Latin cross and was meant to be a central church, with the altar placed in the middle beneath the highest vault. But the altar was placed at the end of the eastern vault, in stead giving the cathedral the character of a long church. This was corrected in 1967-1968, when a new altar was added in the middle of the church. The old altar, with a cross adorned in a deposition cloth symbolising the resurrection, is flanked by two angels representing devotion and religion, works of the famous sculptor Johan Tobias Sergel.
This altar as well as the pulpit and the bishop’s box date from Palmstedt’s renovation. There have been several renovations after that as well, the greatest ones taking place after the big city fire in 1865 (when the tower received its present appearance), in 1915-1916 and in 1967-1968.

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