Lehnin Abbey was founded by the Ascanian margrave Otto I of Brandenburg in 1180, 23 years after his father, late Albert the Bear had finally defeated the Slavic prince Jaxa of Köpenick and established the Brandenburg margraviate in 1157. According to legend, Otto, while hunting at the site, had fallen asleep beneath a giant oak, when a white deer appeared to him in a dream, whose furious attacks he could only ward off by appealing to the Saviour.
To consolidate their rule, the Ascanians called for Christian settlers, especially from Flanders to settle among the 'pagan' Slavs. Beside, they established Cistercian monasteries to develop the lands and to generate an income. Lehnin on the Zauche plateau south of the Havelland region, a daughter house (filial) of Morimond Abbey, was the first abbey to be founded as an Ascanian family monastery and place of burial. It soon became an important contributor to the land development of the Margraviate. Otto I was buried here in 1184. In its turn Lehnin founded the daughter houses of Paradies Abbey (1236, present-day Klasztor Paradyż in Gościkowo, Poland), Mariensee Abbey (1258, relocated to Chorin in 1273), and Himmelpfort Abbey near Fürstenberg/Havel (1299).
The abbey was dissolved in 1542 during the Reformation and turned into an electoral demesne and hunting lodge under the Hohenzollern elector Joachim II of Brandenburg. Devastated during the Thirty Years' War, it was rebuilt under the 'Great Elector' Frederick William from about 1650 and became a summer residence of his first consort Louise Henriette of Nassau. After her death in 1667, Frederick William encouraged the settlement of Huguenot refugees at Lehnin according to his 1685 Edict of Potsdam, which added largely to the recovery of the local economy. Lehnin received access to the Havel river via an artificial waterway and became the site of a large brickyard, while the historic monastery premises again decayed and were used as a stone quarry.
In the 19th century, when Lehnin Abbey came into the focus of German Romanticism and national sentiment, the decay was halted at the initiative of King Frederick William IV of Prussia and his nephew, Crown Prince Frederick. From 1871 to 1877, the ruins were remarkably well restored.
In 1911 the premises were purchased by the Prussian Union of churches to house the Protestant community known as the Luise-Henrietten-Stift. The deaconesses adopted the Cistercian tradition; they were suppressed under Nazi rule, when the authorities seized large parts of the monastery complex for Wehrmacht and SS purposes. From 1949 onwards, Lehnin Abbey was turned into a hospital, today it serves as a geriatric rehabilitation clinic and nursing home.
Lehnin Abbey is significant for its Brick Gothic architecture, and is one of the finest German Brick Gothic period buildings in the country.References:
The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.
The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.
The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.
The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.
Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.
Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.