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:
Sweetheart Abbey was a Cistercian monastery, founded in 1275 by Dervorguilla of Galloway in memory of her husband John de Balliol. His embalmed heart, in a casket of ivory and silver, was buried alongside her when she died; the monks at the Abbey then renamed the Abbey in tribute to her. Their son, also John, became king of Scotland but his reign was tragic and short. The depredations suffered by the Abbey in subsequent periods, have caused both the graves to be lost. The abbey, built in deep-red, local sandstone, was founded as a daughter house to Dundrennan Abbey; this Novum Monasterium (New Monastery), became known as the New Abbey.
The immediate abbey precincts extended to 120,000 m2 and sections of the surrounding wall can still be seen today. The Cistercian order, also known as the White Monks because of the white habit, over which they wore a black scapular or apron, built many great abbeys after their establishment around 1100. Like many of their abbeys, the New Abbey's interests lay not only in prayer and contemplation but in the farming and commercial activity of the area, making it the centre of local life. The abbey ruins dominate the skyline today and one can only imagine how it and the monks would have dominated early medieval life as farmers, agriculturalists, horse and cattle breeders. Surrounded by rich and fertile grazing and arable land, they became increasingly expert and systematic in their farming and breeding methods. Like all Cistercian abbeys, they made their mark, not only on the religious life of the district but on the ways of local farmers and influenced agriculture in the surrounding areas.
The village which stands next to the ruins today, is now known as New Abbey. At the other end of the main street is Monksmill, a corn mill. Although the present buildings date from the late eighteenth century, there was an earlier mill built by and for the monks of the abbey which serviced the surrounding farms.