There’s No Chapel In The World Like This One In Delaware
Old Swedes Church in Wilmington is one of the most important churches in the world; it was one of the very first churches in the new colony when Delaware was settled by Swedish explorers looking to start their new life in the 1630s. Yes, that’s right, the first European settlers in the entire Delaware Valley came from Sweden. The church is located at 606 Church Street in Wilmington, near The Rocks, where the Kalmar Nyckel landed in 1638. It is now a part of First State National Park.
Old Swedes Church itself was built in 1698, is the oldest surviving church in the United States that’s still being used as it was built. The history is evident as you walk through the sacred building – the black walnut pulpit is the oldest known pulpit in the country, and it was built with wood donated from the earliest parishioners, the warden’s chest was built in 1713, the altar candles were donated by the King of Sweden in the 1980s, and the beautiful stained glass window was created by Tiffany.
Beyond the stunning church itself lies the famous graveyard, where over 5,000 souls have been laid to rest over the last 400 years. The earliest grave markers in the Old Swedes Church cemetery date back to the very first settlers of the New Sweden colony, and one can only imagine the stories that these ghosts on the grounds could share.
The Church, graveyard and historical Hendrickson House are available for walk-in tours Wednesday-Saturday from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm, with the last tour departing at 3:30 pm. These hours change in the winter and early spring, so please call the Church at (302) 652-5629 to confirm tour hours. They offer several different tour packages, including ones that round off your day with wine and cheese selections – yum! Tour options are available here. You can also tour the fascinating Labyrinth, which was built in 2001 and inspired by the Chartres Cathedral in France. The Old Swedes Church Labyrinth is a serene place to take a stroll and reflect or meditate when you need time to reconnect with your own mind.
Take a look at the following pictures and video of this incredibly historic, important church in Delaware.
Delaware is full of incredible pieces of history like Old Swedes Church – that’s one of the biggest features of the First State! History is plentiful here, so if you enjoyed learning about the oldest church in America, you’ll love reading about these 10 little-known historic places in Delaware and 16 historic landmarks in Delaware, as well. Have you been to Old Swedes? What did you think of it?
As of 8/27/20, Old Swedes is temporarily closed.