The Masthugg Church, with its granite foundations, appears to be rising directly from the living rock. The church is first and foremost a living parish church for the Parish of Masthugg (Church of Sweden). But it is also one of Gothenburg‘s most famous silhouttes and sights.
The 62 m (203 ft) tower serves as a beacon for both ships and men – it is the first and the last you see of Gothenburg when traveling by sea. The construction work was begun 1n 1910. Huge blocks of stone were transported by four – in – hand – carts up the steep slopes of Stigberget. On Thanksgiving day, October 11th 1914, the church was consecrated. But already on August 2nd 1914 the two church bells had begun their service: they had tolled to announce the outbreak of World war I. The Masthugg Church is considered one of the most typical examples of the romantic trend in national architecture. The architect is Sigfrid Ericson. He is also one of the men behind Götaplatsen, The Gothenburg Museum of Art and The Art Gallery. Medieval church architecture and Old Norse culture were two major sources of inspiration. The brick walls have inlays of Gotland lime stone. And the pegged timber ceiling suggests an affinity to the wooden buildings of the Viking Age. One thinks of the ancient stave churches.
The church consists of a nave and two lateral aisles. The interior is dominated by the timber ceiling in striking contrast with the whitewashed brick walls. The chancel is placed four steps higher than the nave: thus the worshipper cannot see the ceiling above the altar and is able to visualize a limitless elevation. The carpet in the sanctuary is composed by Karna Asker Ericson. The triumph crucifix occupies a central position. Christ the Victorious wears a gold crown instead of the crown of thorns. The crucifix is carved in 1925 by Ninnan Santesson on the pattern of a Gotland work.
In connection with the crucifix the four evangelists also are depicted with their symbols: St Matthew and the man with wings, St Mark and the lion, St Luke and the ox and St John and the eagle.
The Masthugg Church has a great richness in artistic decorations, sculptures and beautiful ornaments. There is much to discover!
Why not, for instance, take a closer look at the column “The Tree of Life“, placed below the gallery of the south lateral aisle. The altar as well as the altarrails are made of soap-stone. On each side of the altar, the altarrails are completed by a pedestal of soap-stone carrying a wrought iron candlestick. The altar-screen in red and gold is Byzantine in style, made in 1913. The triptych with figures in relief was carved in 1921-22 by Ninnan Santesson and painted by Bertil Nordström in 1923. The central panel depicts the Ascension of Christ. On the wings are scenes from the Passion: on the left hand side Gethsemane and on the right side the death of Jesus on the cross, with the soldier piercing the side of Jesus and St Mary and St John mourning beside.
Above the triptych are the Latin initials INHS, (Jesus of Nazareth, the Savior of Man), as well as the Greek letters Alpha and Omega: the beginning and the end. Below the triptych a quotation from the Bible, Luke, 17,33. On opposing shelves on the walls of the chancel we find two wooden statues depicting the archangels. These sculptures were made by Henry Nilsson. Above the baptismal font stands the Angel of Peace, St Raphael, and on the opposite side the Angel of Battle, St Michael, conquering the dragon. A large handembroidered picture adorns the wall in the north lateral aisle. Composed by Signhild Häller. It was completed in 1953. The motif is drawn from a much loved hymn in the Swedish Hymn-Book, “Härlig är jorden” (Wonderful is the earth), describing the human pilgrimage through life. Please note the Masthugg Church in the picture! An African hand-weaved picture adorns the wall in the rear of the south nave, it is from Rorke’s Drift and was purchased to the church in 2001. It’s colour harmonize well with the triptych.
The organ, also consisting of an altar organ behind the altar, is, with its 66 stops, one of the largest church organs in Gothenburg. The organ was built by J. Magnussons orgelfabrik in Gothenburg in 1914. The total amount of organ pipes is 4 320. There are no visible pipes on the front. Instead, there is a timber facade with relief figures of saints and musicmaking angels. The timber facade is crowned by two dragon heads. All figures are carved by Henry Nilsson.
In the rear of the church is a beautiful lowered room which has been used as a baptism chapel. The rounded ceiling produces a remarkable echo: a whisper on one side of the room can be clearly heard on the opposite side. Baptisms are nowadays performed in the chancel.
The ship in the north part of the nave represents the East-India-ship “Java”. It is a deposit from the Maritime Museum of Gothenburg. The Masthugg Church is a living parish church where people come togheter to worship and to celebrate the solemn and important festivals and holy moments of life.
In the both porches You can see stone-reliefs. The stone-relief in the north porch visualize the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus, the three Kings and Josef the timberman which is tempted by the devil to use board instead of timber. This relief have been interpreted as a dig from the architect to the building committee who believed it was too expensiv to build the church.
Source: Welcome to Masthuggskyrkan
- 7 August-14 August Gotland with Carl and Co (akafang.wordpress.com)
- Gothenburg is Where the Action is for summer music (travelnews.britishairways.com)