The Church of Our Lady in Assens is the second largest church on the island of Funen. The main chapel on the north side of the church and the lower, square part of the tower are remains of a Romanesque church. In 1488 the church stood in its present form. The Catholic past of the building is heralded in a monstrance, now located to the right of the altar, and a stoup in what was then the porch.
After the Reformation, it came into use as a protestant church. It underwent rough-handed restoration work in 1842-56 and 1881-84.
The church is a three-nave church built in large, red brick of the type in Denmark known as monk stone (munkesten). Typically of Gothic churches, the roofs of the aisles are lower than that of the central nave, allowing light to enter through clerestory windows. The tower stands at 48 metres. Its octagonal upper part is unusual in Danish church architecture, the only similar design is that of the five towers of Church of Our Lady in Kalundborg.
The altarpiece dates from about 1620. The painting is from 1826 and by Dankvart Dreyer. It was a gift from the painter who was born in Assens and settled there again later in life. Another work by a local artist found in the church is a marble angel created by the sculptor Jens Adolf Jerichau who was born in Assens in 1816, incidentally the same year as Dreyer. The pulpit, from the second half of the 17th century, was made in Hans Nielsen Bangs's workshop and is decorated with woodcarvings depicting scenes from the Passion on the sides, and nine wooden figures on the edges, probably representing nine of the disciples. Figures of the last three disciples may have decorated the stairs leading up to the pulpit. It also has an hour glass from the 18th century, probably to ensure that the priest's services did not last more than one hour. The wrought iron balustrade of the altar rails feature a crossed hammer and key, the trademark of King Christian IV's court smith, Casper Finck.
More than 450 people were buried inside the church in the 18th century. Some were covered with richly decorated tomb stones while others were covered with brick or simple wooden planks. All the burials were removed from the church in the beginning of the 19th century when burials inside churches were abolished due to health risk. The tomb stones were then placed along the external walls of the church.References:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.