The medieval church in the north of the island of Visingsö in Lake Vättern is best known nowadays for its cut-off tower, from which visitors can enjoy the view.
Kumlaby Church was built in the 12th century using local slate, with sandstone door and window frames. The church comprises nave, chancel, apse and a west tower added slightly later. In the 15th century, the church was vaulted and decorated with frescos depicting motifs from the legends of the saints and medieval symbolism.
During the 16th century, the island’s two parishes were merged into one and, in 1636, all church activity was moved to the newly completed Brahe Church. Per Brahe the Younger then converted the abandoned church into schoolrooms for the school he had founded: ‘Schola Brahea’, the Visingsborg School. Among other things, he had the steeple removed and built a platform there for the pupils to study astronomy.
The church served as a school for 175 years, after which it was left to its fate. For a number of years during the 19th century, it was used by the missionary movement. In 1922, the church underwent radical restoration, assuming its present appearance.
As a visitor, not only can you go into the church but also up to the top of the cut-off tower. The staircase up to the tower is narrow and dark, but well worth the effort. It is said that in fine weather you can see four of Sweden’s provinces – Småland, Östergötland, Närke and Västergötland – from the top. One of the most popular horse-drawn carriage tours makes a stop at Kumlaby Church.