Oliwa Cathedral is dedicated to The Holy Trinity, Blessed Virgin Mary and St Bernard. The first Cistercian monastery on the site was founded by Sambor I of Gdánsk, Duke of Pomerania, in 1186. The first Romanesque oratory was burnt down in 1224 during the pagan Prussians crusade. It was rebuilt in 1234-1236, but destroyed again by Prussian crusade.
In 1350 fire that was caused by chimney soot excess completely consumed both the church and the monastery. The present shape of both of those buildings date back to the second half of the 14th century. During the rebellion of the city of Gdańsk the mercenary army attacked the monastery and burned it to the ground in 1577. The current church was rebuilt between 1578-1583 and inaugurated in 1594.
In 1831 Prussian authorities closed down the Cistercian monastery in Oliwa. The church, together with some of the buildings belonging to it, was handed over to a Catholic parish. It took until 1925, when under a papal bull issued, Pope Pius XI established the Diocese of Gdańsk and by that raised the Oliwa church to the dignity of a cathedral. Oliwa became the capital of the diocese and a seat of bishops.
Oliwa cathedral is a three-nave basilica with a transept and a multi sided closed presbytery, finished with an ambulatory. The façade is flanked by two slender towers, 46-metres tall each with sharply-edged helmets. It is enlivened by a Baroque portal from 1688, as well as three windows of different sizes and three cartouches. The crossing of the naves is overlooked by a bell tower, a typical element of the Cistercian architecture. The cathedral is 17.7m high, 19m wide and 107m long (97.6m of the interior itself), which makes it the longest Cistercian church in the world. It holds works of art in Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo and Classical style of great artistic value.
All the 23 altars of the cathedral are of great historical value. They are mainly Baroque and Rococo, partly made of marble. Their iconography depicts the main principles of the post-Trent church. Most outstanding are the present High Altar (1688), which is the most profound Baroque work of art in Pomerania; and the Netherland Renaissance style altar, which until 1688 played the role of the main one. The paintings in the altars, presbytery and main nave were made by the famous 17th- century artists: Herman Han (1574–1628), Adolf Boy (1612-1680), Andrzej Stech (1635–1697) and Andreas Schlütera (1660–1714). The interior also holds Rococo chapels of the Holy Cross and St John of Nepomuk, an ambo, tombstones, epitaphs, the Pomeranian Dukes tomb, the Kos family tomb, bishop’s crypt, antique chandeliers, canopies, and many other antiquities, including a feretory of great cultural value, showing Our Lady of Oliwa with an Infant Jesus. The feretory is always carried during the annual walking pilgrimage to the Calvary of Wejherowo. The archcathedral holds organ concerts all year round and the beautifully restored monastery (now belonging to Gdańsk Seminary) displays the collection of the Diocesan Museum. Oliwa Cathedral is very important place for the Kashubian culture.References:
The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.
In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.
The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.
The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.