Alvastra Abbey – Ödeshög V, Sweden - Atlas Obscura

Ödeshög V, Sweden

Alvastra Abbey

The ruins of a monastery where Saint Bridget of Sweden had her revelations recorded. 

The ruins of this monastery preserve a part of Swedish history from before the Protestant Reformation. It’s from a time when people donated land or money to gain easier access to heaven after their deaths.

This monastery started in the 12th century, when King Sverker the Elder and his queen, who wanted to gain favor with the church, donated land to the French Clairvaux monks and invited them to come and build the sanctuary. After the king was murdered, his body was buried in the monastery grounds.

A century later, Saint Bridget of Sweden stayed at the monastery. While there, she had various visions and revelations, which were written down and later helped her become canonized as a saint.

The Protestant Reformation brought an end to the monastery. After its last abbot became ill and resigned, a knight gained control of the old abbey. Conditions at the monastery declined so the monks moved out, leaving the sanctuary to crumble into ruins.

The property then became farmland, and King Gustav Vasa ordered that the monastery’s stones would be used to build his castle in the city of Vadstena. Later, a nobleman named Brahe used some of the stones for his castle in Visingsö.

Know Before You Go

It is free to visit, and there is a toilet, as well as some information, in a small building close to the ruins. Keep in mind though, that the ruins lie right next to the farm buildings, which are private property.

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