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Welcome to the key city of Borgund in Ålesund municipality
Borgund is an exciting place to explore. Here is a museum that shows many layers of history, and a church town with roots dating back to pre-Christian times. Here you will find more information about Sunnmøre museum with the Medieval Town and Borgund church.
Borgund was probably an old religious and cultural center in pre-Christian times due to its central location on Sunnmøre. It is assumed that there have been churches here since the first Christian era, i.e. around the year 1000. In the last half of the 12th century, there were probably four churches in Borgund, as many as in Oslo at the same time. Someone has obviously tried to establish an ecclesiastical center between Bergen and Trondheim. This became more important as Selje bishopric and monastery lost their influence.
The four churches were:
- Peter's Church: The walls in this today form the cross arm of Borgund Church, perhaps from 1130.
- Margareta church was located on the headland at Klokkersundet, below the medieval museum. The plot is partially excavated. The walls from here were in 1632 used tobuild up what is now the choir in Borgund church.
- Kristkyrkja: It is probably the walls after this that have been found between løebrua and the pactarbustaden by the drive down to the presbytery.
- Matthew's church: Physical remains of this have not been found, but the church is mentioned in English medieval writings in which the name bishop Tore av Borgund is also included between the Norwegian bishops.
The churches fell into disrepair in the late Middle Ages after Borgund had lost its function as a central trading centre. Only St. Peter's Basilica remained. Together with parts of the walls from the Margareta church, it forms the foundation of the current Borgund church. The nave in the south was built in 1868.
Was here a monastery?
Skrei fishing in the Borgundfjord was extensive and the town and the church town grew. Towards the end of the 12th century, four stone churches stood here, all probably clad with marble that was quarried on the island of Humla just across the fjord. Here were Christ Church, Matthias Church, Margaret Church and Peter Church. The last one is now the east wing of Borgundkyrkja as it stands today. According to tradition, there was also a monastery here, and at the end of the 13th century there is mention of a brother Arne in Borgund. It is more likely, however, that it is a hospice and not a monastery. Then Borgund had a town where pilgrims could get food and a bed.Was here a monastery?
The construction of these four churches took years and was expensive. Stone buildings were not commonplace in Møre. Similar churches were built in Åheim, in Herøy, in Ulstein and not least in Giske. The magnates had a marble church built there sometime in the 12th century, and in 1345 Pope Clemens gave six hundred days' indulgence to pilgrims who visited the church.
The medieval city
In the 13th century, the town of Borgund flourished. Merchant ships come from home and abroad. Large quantities of dried fish find their way into Europe. The fasting rules of the Catholic Church mean that the demand for fish is high. Dried fish can also be stored for years and still be fully edible. Everything looks promising, but out on the horizon dark clouds loom. The weather is getting colder. The fishing is failing. Times are not as good and the townspeople are unable to maintain the churches. Archbishop Eiliv (1309-32) writes a letter that gives 30 days of indulgence to those who are involved in rebuilding the dilapidated Matthias Church.
In 1349, disaster struck. The Black Death. More than half of those who live in Borgund and Sunnmøre die. And in Bergen, the Hanseatic people settle down and the Sunnmørings rather go there with their goods. Trade in Borgund declines, and towards the end of the 16th century it is mostly over for the town of Borgund. Of the churches, only the parish church, Peterskyrkja, is in use, and in the 1640s Margaret Church was demolished and the stone used to build Peterskyrkja. The parish of Borgund is large and rich, but the town of Borgund is gone, and now Ålesund is growing.
Pilgrimage to Borgund
From Ålesund town by the steps to Aksla, you can follow the well-marked path to Borgund. It runs inwards along the ridge of Aksla, before sloping down and over the main road as you approach the mouse area. There are signs with a pilgrim mark all along the way. It is about 6 km and is an easy walk. You can use sneakers. You can make a plan for the return to Ålesund or furter north with travel planner FRAM.
Hotel Brosundet is certified as a pilgrim hotel. Here you will get 15% discount on dynamic prices. There will subsequently be more pilgrim hostels and hotels in the vicinity, at different prices and qualities.
Kari Vatne phone +47 92065380, mail: email@example.com