Aa Church (Aa kirke) is a Romanesque church dating from the 12th century. Aa Church, which literally means "stream church", owes its name to the two streams which run beside it. Dedicated to John the Baptist, it was first known as Sankt Hans kirke (St John's Church). A gilded figure of St John stood in the church until 1706 but was buried in the churchyard by the priest as it was attracting undue attention from Catholic prisoners during the Great Northern War.
The church was built in the latter half of the 12th century in several stages. The oldest remaining sections are the choir and apse and the lower parts of the nave, all characterized by greenish sandstone and rust-brown shale from nearby Grødby Stream. The western end of the nave and the tower are made of limestone. The men's door to the south and the women's door to the north have both been preserved although the latter has been transformed into a window.
The tower was originally narrower on the western side but was already widened to its current dimensions of 13 by 11 metres during the Romanesque period. With its four floors, it reaches a height of 22 metres. The twin roofs from the 14th century probably replaced a four-sided pyramid. The bells now hang here although they were originally housed in the Bornholm fashion in a separate bell tower to the south of the church. The vaulted rooms in the tower were once used to store foodstuffs. The porch of Nexø sandstone, the oldest on Bornholm, is slightly more recent than the tower but still dates to the Romanesque period around 1200–1235.
The nave is large and light with a flat wooden ceiling. The vaulted ceiling from the Gothic period c. 1350 is supported by four rectangular corner pillars. It was earlier divided into two by arcade walls and had a gallery for the nobles from the now ruined Lilleborg Castle. During major restoration work in 1874, the arcade walls were torn down giving the church its present shape. Further restoration was carried out in 1968.
The altarpiece and pulpit date from 1603, probably the work of the sculptor Johan Ottho from Lund. With 11 scenes of Jesus' life, the sandstone font from 1200 is ascribed to the Gotland sculptor Sigraf.References:
From its origin as a small stronghold built by the ancient Illyrian tribe Dalmatae, becoming a royal castle that was the seat of many Croatian kings, to its final development as a large fortress during the Ottoman wars in Europe, Klis Fortress has guarded the frontier, being lost and re-conquered several times. Due to its location on a pass that separates the mountains Mosor and Kozjak, the fortress served as a major source of defense in Dalmatia, especially against the Ottoman advance, and has been a key crossroad between the Mediterranean belt and the Balkan rear.
Since Duke Mislav of the Duchy of Croatia made Klis Fortress the seat of his throne in the middle of the 9th century, the fortress served as the seat of many Croatia"s rulers. The reign of his successor, Duke Trpimir I, the founder of the Croatian royal House of Trpimirović, is significant for spreading Christianity in the Duchy of Croatia. He largely expanded the Klis Fortress, and in Rižinice, in the valley under the fortress, he built a church and the first Benedictine monastery in Croatia. During the reign of the first Croatian king, Tomislav, Klis and Biograd na Moru were his chief residences.
In March 1242 at Klis Fortress, Tatars who were a constituent segment of the Mongol army under the leadership of Kadan suffered a major defeat while in pursuit of the Hungarian army led by King Béla IV. After their defeat by Croatian forces, the Mongols retreated, and Béla IV rewarded many Croatian towns and nobles with 'substantial riches'. During the Late Middle Ages, the fortress was governed by Croatian nobility, amongst whom Paul I Šubić of Bribir was the most significant. During his reign, the House of Šubić controlled most of modern-day Croatia and Bosnia. Excluding the brief possession by the forces of Bosnian King, Tvrtko I, the fortress remained in Hungaro-Croatian hands for the next several hundred years, until the 16th century.
Klis Fortress is probably best known for its defense against the Ottoman invasion of Europe in the early 16th century. Croatian captain Petar Kružić led the defense of the fortress against a Turkish invasion and siege that lasted for more than two and a half decades. During this defense, as Kružić and his soldiers fought without allies against the Turks, the military faction of Uskoks was formed, which later became famous as an elite Croatian militant sect. Ultimately, the defenders were defeated and the fortress was occupied by the Ottomans in 1537. After more than a century under Ottoman rule, in 1669, Klis Fortress was besieged and seized by the Republic of Venice, thus moving the border between Christian and Muslim Europe further east and helping to contribute to the decline of the Ottoman Empire. The Venetians restored and enlarged the fortress, but it was taken by the Austrians after Napoleon extinguished the republic itself in 1797. Today, Klis Fortress contains a museum where visitors to this historic military structure can see an array of arms, armor, and traditional uniforms.