Saturday, 19 February 2011

What to see: Church of Gustav Vasa, Stockholm

Although it is the Cathedral that is known as “the Great Church” (Storkyrkan) the largest church in Stockholm is in fact the Church of Gustav Vasa at Odenplan, which can seat 1,500 people. It was built by the architect Agi Lindgren (1858-1927) between 1898 and 1906 in a neo-baroque style surmounted by a dome reaching 60 metres from the ground.
Building a neo-baroque church at the time when art nouveau was the flourishing and dominant style in Sweden might be considered an anachronism, but Lindgren was at the time employed as architect at Drottningholm Palace and was obviously full of admiration for the work of Nicodemus Tessin father and son.
It is obvious that Lindgren had made close studies of some of Stockholm’s baroque churches – such as the Church of Adolf Fredrik, but perhaps first and foremost the Church of Katarina. From his foreign travels he was also familiar with Italian baroque church architecture.
Alternatively the classical elements of this church might be interpreted as an indication of the classicist wave which would become a hallmark of Scandinavian architecture in the interwar years.
Inside the ceiling and dome are decorated with frescos by Vicke Andrén, while the interior is otherwise dominated by a massive baroque altar by Burchardt Precht, made in the 1720s and to be found in Uppsala Cathedral until its restoration in the late nineteenth century.
Beneath the church is a large columbarium built in 1923-1924, which was the first such thing in Sweden.

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