St. John's Lutherans Church is one of the oldest medieval architectural monuments in Latvia and the largest medieval basilica outside Riga. The Church was built in 13th century under the Livonian Order by the second Riga Archbishop Johann von Luves. Cesis became one of the most important German centres from 1237 to 1561.
In the 16th century St. John's Church survived a few changes. First at the beginning it was devastated and became one of the Northern Reformation Centres and one of the first Reformation Churches in Latvia. At the end of the century Cesis was ruled by Polish authority and the name of the Church was changed into Catholic bishop Inflantijas Cathedral. After Sweden-Russian war Cesis was annexed by Russia and St. John's Church became Russian property until 1919 year. WWI as well as WWII destroyed a big part of the Church. After WWI the Church lost its 56 stunning stained glass windows, a part tile roof, an organ space was damaged. During a siege in WWII the city was strongly bombed up. The southern part of side area, roof arch and organ were destroyed.
Although St. John's Church suffered the North War, eight fires, crusades of German and Soviet Union troops, it managed to rebuild the roof, walls, arches and even stained glass windows. Today the glorious St. John's Lutheran Church is 65 m long, 32 meters wide and has a massive 65 m high bell tower of neo gothic style with four small towers on the corners and a 15 m high triangular gothic spire. The three-sphere basilica centre altar is a public monument as this late gothic style masterpiece is cut from oak. The apse and rectangular halls are trimmed with semi-circle arches interlinking in the centre. Large stained glass windows, ancient metal wares, gravestones of Livonian Masters of the Order and organ music is creating mysterious and exciting atmosphere.
Besides the everyday three-time worships the Church is also organizing local organ concerts and world famous International Organ Festivals. St. John's Church is actively cooperating with city council, other interfaith congregations, “Sister” Church in Sweden and German and associates with the Riga Old Sun Gertrude and Slokas congregations. The Church is protecting historical and art monuments that are inscribed into National importance list.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).