Mikaelshula - Sankt Mikaels Kirke

Useful Information

Location: 7.5 km weat of city center Skien, in the Skienkommune. Skien is the capital of Telemark. On the shore of lake Norsjø, 30 m above the water in a vertical cliff face.
Park at N 59 13.518 E 009 29.093, about 1.5 km walk in total. Alternatively, take a boat to the landing below the cave.
(59.2200949, 9.4758858)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: Speleologyerosional cave SubterraneaSt. Michael Caves
Light: bring torch
Dimension: L=20 m, W=7 m, H=5.70 m. Portal: H=5 m, W=5 m. A=30 m asl.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Mikaelshulen, Tel: +47-, Fax: +47-,
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1537 church abandoned.
2018 closed due to a landslide.
SEP-2018 reopened.


Mikaelshulen, Telemark, Norway. Public Domain.
Mikaelshulen, Telemark, Norway. Public Domain.

Mikaelshulen is a natural cave, at least mostly. It is named after Saint Michael the archangel, because this cave once was a church dedicated to him. St. Michael was fighting the dragon underground, so many cave churches are dedicated to him, and many churches dedicated to him are cave churches. There are some 20 churches dedicated to St. Michael in Norway, and most of them are in caves.

When Norway was catholic, the cave was used as a church, and it was equipped with a cross and an altar. The Bischofs Eysteins jordebok, a sort of cadastral register from the 15th century, lists the Kirkja i Mikjálsbergi (church in Michaels mount). Another source from the year 1643 was written in Latin, it mentions a Templum Mirabile (wondersome temple). Most likely, this means this cave.

During the reformation all catholic churches were closed, the catholics had to convert. There was a death penaty for being a monk. In this time, the remote cave church became a hideout and refuge. The last monk of the area, father Sylvester, was buried in the cave when he died. The grave was at the far end of the cave which was thought to be the sakristy.

The Mikaelshulen is a single passage, 20 m long, with a vaulted ceiling and a flat floor consisting of dry clay. The portal opens toward lake Norsjø, 30 m above the water in a vertical cliff face. There is a steep trail from the lakeshore to the cave. To reach the cave, you must eiteher walk from the next road or take a boat to the landing below the cave.

The cave was formed by erosion, which is mechanical weathering, in crystalline rocks. Two processes worked together. When the water level of the lake was in the same height as the cave, the waves were working the rocks, removing the resistant parts. The other force was the Ice Age, ice of the cold periods, both the ice floating on the water of the fjord and the ice of the glaciers.