Simple and Stately: Mora Church

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Mora Church, Mora kyrka, Mora, Sweden

Right at the end of Mora’s main shopping street are two of its main attractions: Zorngården, which is dedicated to local boy, Anders Zorn, and a grand church.  I say grand, but it’s not grand in a south European sort of way – it’s grand by Swedish provincial standards.  And that makes it charming too.

At the end of the 13th century, a small stone church was built on this site, replaced by the present version in the 1480s.  In the Middle Ages, the church was dedicated to St Michael, but with the subsequent conversion to Protestantism, the name was dropped.  During the night of the 3rd May 1671, there was a terrible thunderstorm in Mora, hitting the church and destroying the church tower.  A replacement was erected two years later, funded by King Karl XI, designed by the royal architect Jean de la Vallee.

The church also is close to the finishing line for the Vasaloppet – the Vasa Race.  This has been going since 1922 and is the oldest long-distance cross-country skiing race in the world, starting in Sälen and finishing in Mora.  It was inspired by the journey made between these two towns by Gustav Vasa when he was fleeing the soldiers of Christian II in 1520/1.  The event is hugely popular, and draws in a huge number of participants every year.  The record winning time was from 2012 at 3 hours, 38 minutes, 41 seconds – but only ten winners have finished in less than four hours – the average winning time is apparently around 5 hours.  Incredible and crazy.

Zorn’s grave is in the graveyard of the church, and makes for a good way to finish off a Zorn-y day, if you’ve visited his house as well.  After seeing his quite humble home, it makes sense that his grave is also quite humble, drawing on Viking design.  We couldn’t hunt down Zorn’s mother’s grave, because it suddenly started to rain quite heavily, which is annoying, because it was designed by her son.

So In Summary

The church was charming – basically because it was so simple.  It looked grand from the outside, and so stepping into this white, cool, elegant space was unexpectedly striking.  It meant you got to really appreciate the details – the pretty chandeliers, the bronze numbers of the hymn board, the wooden statue of St Olof…  The Zorn connection gives it some added interest, but the church is worth a visit for its own sake.

Further Information

There is a website that gives basic information about the church with Google translate:

How to Get There

Mora is a small town.  The walk from the train station isn’t too far.  It’s a pleasant walk by Lake Siljan.  If you’re coming in from Falun by bus, it’s a few minutes’ walk to the main shopping street, with the church at the far end.


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