Kiruna Church is really also shaped like a Sami hut (lavvú), with a wide base and a tapered top. The light comes in from above because the windows in the lower walls are made of colored glass and only the upper windows are clear. It has been called the “sanctuary of the wandering people” and was built specifically to be a gathering place for the entire population of the new city. Hjalmar Lundbohm envisioned a church where everyone could feel devotion and therefore wanted to avoid direct Christian symbols. Bishop Olof Bergqvist, however, requested that the church’s provision be clearly emphasized. Therefore, there is only one cross in the entire building, made by Christian Eriksson.
Due to the city transformation, Kiruna church will be moved in one piece to a new location in 2025.
The belfry was inaugurated in 1907 and was thus built before the church. The bell chamber is supported by twelve, almost 20 meter high masts that came via Narvik from Russian forests by the White Sea. There are two bells in the belfry.
The church was built between the years 1909 and 1912 under the leadership of LKAB’s building manager in Kiruna, engineer Bengt Lundgren. Architect Gustav Wickman and manager Hjalmar Lundbohm both actively participated in the construction company. The construction cost SEK 270,000, which was almost three times more than estimated.
On December 8, 1912, the church was consecrated by Bishop Olof Bergqvist, assisted by eight priests. Everyone who participated in the inauguration’s church coffee was allowed to bring home a coffee cup and saucer of the inauguration porcelain. Three thousand cups and barrels were distributed. On May 23, 1913, LKAB’s board decided to hand over the church and surrounding park area as a gift to Jukkasjärvi parish. The deed of gift was signed on August 1, 1913.
Kiruna Church was named one of Sweden’s most beautiful buildings in 2001 with the name “The best building of all time, built before 1950” in Sweden and it was also voted by the Swedish people as Sweden’s most popular building.
Kiruna church can be visited every day of the year. During summer there is a guide on site and also the opening hours are a bit longer than usual. At ceremonies, the church is closed.
The altarpiece was painted in 1897 by Prince Eugen and is called “The Holy Grove”. The landscape was inspired by Prince Eugen from Tuscany in Italy. According to legend, a little boy came to the prince when the painting was painted and asked what it represented. Prince Eugen then replied that it represented Paradise. The boy then asked why it was not possible to enter Paradise; there was no path between the trees. Prince Eugen then painted a path that can be seen down to the right in the grove.
On the roof of the church are 12 gilded 2 meter high and 250 kg heavy sculptures, made by Christian Eriksson and cast in bronze. They portray people in different states of mind: Indulgence, Delight, Despair, Shyness, Pride, Piety, Confidence, Devotion, Difficulty, Sorrow, Love and Humility. Several of the figures reflect local conditions. Christian Eriksson has also made the carved relief above the church gate, which is a gift from Tuolluvaara Gruvaktiebolag.
Hjalmar Lundbohm, LKAB’s first manager and founder of Kiruna, died on April 4, 1926. Three years later, LKAB erected a memorial stone on his grave which is in the church park to the right of the church. The stone has a relief of Hjalmar Lundbohm in full figure sitting with his hat in his hand and facing Kiirunavaara.