Maribo Abbey, established in 1416, was the first Bridgettine monastery in Denmark and became one of the most important Danish abbeys of the late Middle Ages. The monastery is in ruins, but the abbey church still remains in use as Maribo Cathedral.
Originally dedicated to the Virgin Mary and Saint Bridget of Vadstena, the church was built in the early 15th century. It was Queen Margrethe I who provided land for a monastery to be built there, encouraged by her childhood tutor, Merete, St Bridget's daughter. In 1418, in connection with recognition of the monastery, the pope decreed that the town should be renamed 'Habitaculum Mariae' (the community of Mary) leading to the adoption of Danish Marienbo, later Maribo. A note from the journal of Vadstena Abbey, the mother church, states that monks left to found a monastery in Skimminge in 1416. After the Reformation in 1536, the monastery continued to exist but in 1556 was converted into a protestant convent for young ladies. When the town's main church burnt down in 1596, the convent church became the parish church of Maribo. After the convent was finally demolished in 1621, ownership of the church was transferred to the town. From 1803, with the establishment of the Lolland-Falster diocese, the church was usually referred to as a cathedral but it was only in 1924 that it officially received the status of 'domkirke' ( cathedral).
The Gothic cathedral is built of red brick as a hall church with a nave flanked by equally high aisles with a common roof. In accordance with St Bridget's instructions, to the west (rather than the east), there is a lower and narrower chancel. Completed in 1446, the four west bays of the nave (which has a total length of 60 m) are built of the same bricks as the chancel but the four east bays, completed around 1470, were apparently built by another mason. Designed by Hermann Baagøe Storck, the tower on the west gable is relatively recent (1891) but replaces an earlier tower built in the Middle Ages, similar to that in the former Mariager Church which was also built according to St Bridgit's instructions. The two doors at the west end of the building were for ordinary people: men used the south door while women entered through the north door. The relief in the gable wall represents Christ on the Cross surrounded by the sun and moon and by instruments of torture. The chancel has the same star-vaulting as the nave, supported by octagonal pillars. The galleries above the aisles and at the east end of the church were built to accommodate the nuns who had to be carefully separated from the monks and the congragation.
The Baroque altarpiece (1641) carved in the auricular style is the work of Henrik Werner from the north of Germany. The central panel, flanked by columns, depicts the Last Supper. Below Christ can be seen in the Garden of Gethsemane and, above, at the Resurrection. Figures of the four Evangelists are also presented.
The Late-Renaissance pulpit (1606) has five arcaded panels with the Evangelists and the figure of Christ. The figure of Christ on the chancel arch crucifix is from the late 15th century although the cross itself is recent. The font is centred on the church's oldest font from the early 17th century. The figures of the Evangelists are presented in relief. It was renovated in 1777. The Augustinian Altar from the late 15th century depicting Saint Augustine in pontifical attire flanked by paintings of the Trinity, Pope Gregory's mass, the Annunciation and Saint Anne.
Of particular note is the Birgitta Alter (Bridget Altar) from the late 15th century with a painting of a woman in flowing clothes, thought either to be St Bridgit or the Virgin Mary. Housed in a cupboard with two doors, it is said to be the oldest painting on canvas in Scandinavia.References:
The Old Town Hall of Wrocław is one of the main landmarks of the city. The Old Town Hall's long history reflects developments that have taken place in the city since its initial construction. The town hall serves the city of Wroclaw and is used for civic and cultural events such as concerts held in its Great Hall. In addition, it houses a museum and a basement restaurant.
The town hall was developed over a period of about 250 years, from the end of 13th century to the middle of 16th century. The structure and floor plan changed over this extended period in response to the changing needs of the city. The exact date of the initial construction is not known. However, between 1299 and 1301 a single-storey structure with cellars and a tower called the consistory was built. The oldest parts of the current building, the Burghers’ Hall and the lower floors of the tower, may date to this time. In these early days the primary purpose of the building was trade rather than civic administration activities.
Between 1328 and 1333 an upper storey was added to include the Council room and the Aldermen’s room. Expansion continued during the 14th century with the addition of extra rooms, most notably the Court room. The building became a key location for the city’s commercial and administrative functions.
The 15th and 16th centuries were times of prosperity for Wroclaw as was reflected in the rapid development of the building during that period. The construction program gathered momentum, particularly from 1470 to 1510, when several rooms were added. The Burghers’ Hall was re-vaulted to take on its current shape, and the upper story began to take shape with the development of the Great Hall and the addition of the Treasury and Little Treasury.
Further innovations during the 16th century included the addition of the city’s Coat of arms (1536), and the rebuilding of the upper part of the tower (1558–59). This was the final stage of the main building program. By 1560, the major features of today’s Stray Rates were established.
The second half of the 17th century was a period of decline for the city, and this decline was reflected in the Stray Rates. Perhaps by way of compensation, efforts were made to enrich the interior decorations of the hall. In 1741, Wroclaw became a part of Prussia, and the power of the City diminished. Much of the Stray Rates was allocated to administering justice.
During the 19th century there were two major changes. The courts moved to a separate building, and the Rates became the site of the city council and supporting functions. There was also a major program of renovation because the building had been neglected and was covered with creeping vines. The town hall now has several en-Gothic features including some sculptural decoration from this period.
In the early years of the 20th century improvements continued with various repair work and the addition of the Little Bear statue in 1902. During the 1930s, the official role of the Rates was reduced and it was converted into a museum. By the end of World War II Town Hall suffered minor damage, such as aerial bomb pierced the roof (but not exploded) and some sculptural elements were lost. Restoration work began in the 1950s following a period of research, and this conservation effort continued throughout the 20th century. It included refurbishment of the clock on the east facade.