Utstein Monastery

Utstein Monastery

Utstein Monastery lies by the shipping lane between Stavanger and Karmsund. It belongs to the municipality of Rennesøy. Access is easy today. Follow the signposted turn-off from the highway between Stavanger and Haugesund. The first mention of Utstein is made in Torbjørn Hornkloves old Norse lay about the battle of Hafrsfjord in 872. The legendary victor of that battle King Harald Hårfagre resided on his estate at Utstein. The oldest remaining buildings originale from the middle of the 13th century. Kong Magnus Lagabøte was given the region of Rygjafylket as a fief in 1257. At the death of his father, King Håkon Håkonsson, in 1264; Magnus Lagabøte went to Bergen and settled there in 1264. He donated Utstein to the Augustinian friars. After the friars had taken over, the church was finished and the refectory, the dormitory and the lay brothers west wing was built. In this monastery the monks and the lay brothers lived until the Reformation in 1536/37, then parts of the monastery were burnt down.

After the Reformation, the monastery and its landed property came under the crown. Until 1665 the estate was given as a fief to various member of the Danish aristocracy. One of the fief holders, Erik Urne, renovated the church and had made a new altar piece and a new pulpit. The monastery came into Norwegian ownership in the 18th century. The wealthy John Garmann from Bergen bought the monastery and his son Christopher took over the estate and repaired the buildings. The legend has it that one of his wives, "the White Lady" returns to Utstein to haunt it. Later several of the farms were sold, and the monastery with its garden was separated from the main estate in the 1930s. But the same family still owns the Utstein estate. The monastery was renovated and made open to the public. It is beautifully situated, surrounded by a fine garden with tall beech trees. The landscape surrounding the monastery is preserved by law.

Every summer, from May through September there are tours with guides dressed in clothes as worn in medieval times. Theme Weeks are held, showing working techniques from the middle ages. Mass is held regularly in the church, and special prayer meetings with song are held from time to time.

Summer concerts are held in the nave, which is renowned for its wonderful acoustics. During the autumn, winter and spring it is possible to book time to arrange culture dinners (up to 28 people) and seminars.

Today, it is run as a museum and conference centre. Concerts are also held there. The cultural landscape around the monastery is protected by law.

Season Opening
Middle of May-Aug: Daily 10am-4pm, closed Mon. July: Daily 10am-4pm. Mars-Oct: Sun 12am-5pm.

The Utstein Monastery
NO-4156 Mosterøy
Follow E39 north from Stavanger via the underground tunnel to Mosterøy.
Tel: 51 72 47 05
Fax: 51 72 47 08 51 72 47 08
Email: booking@utstein-kloster.no
Internet: http://www.utstein-kloster.no/
Utstein Monastery is Norway's only well-preserved medieval monastery.
Utstein Monastery is Norway's only well-preserved medieval monastery.

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