According the Gutasaga, a man called Lickajr the Wise built one of the first churches on Gotland in Stenkyrka. If true, this first church was almost certainly wooden. The name Stenkyrka (literally in Swedish stone church) implies that also the stone church is very early, from a time when buildings made of stone (rather than wood) was still a phenomenon unusual enough to give name to a place. This first, Romanesque church is also gone, but traces have been found and archaeologists have been able to determine that it was a small church with tower, nave and choir.
The Romanesque church was successively replaced by the presently visible church starting in the mid-13th century. The choir was rebuilt first, followed by the nave, which was inaugurated by the bishop of Linköping in 1255. The tower was added during the 14th century, and modelled after three similar city churches (since destroyed) in Visby.
The church is dominated externally by the accomplished tower, one of the finest church towers on Gotland. The church has two simple Romanesque portals and a Gothic tower portal. Internally, the church is richly decorated with frescos, dating from three different periods. The oldest ones are from the middle of the 13th century and mainly ornamental. Later but from the same century are a number of paintings depicting imaginary animals, drapery and marble imitation. The youngest frescos, from the end of the 14th century, depict figures and scenes from the bible.
The furnishings are mostly from after the reformation. A finely carved crucifix dates from the late 14th century, and the baptismal font is from the 12th century. The church is also the location of the oldest dated gravestone on Gotland, from the year 1200.References:
Augustusburg Palace represents one of the first examples of Rococo creations in Germany. For the Cologne elector and archbishop Clemens August of the House of Wittelsbach it was the favourite residence. In 1725 the Westphalian architect Johann Conrad Schlaun was commissioned by Clemens August to begin the construction of the palace on the ruins of a medieval moated castle.
In 1728, the Bavarian court architect François de Cuvilliés took over and made the palace into one of the most glorious residences of its time. Until its completion in 1768, numerous outstanding artists of European renown contributed to its beauty. A prime example of the calibre of artists employed here is Balthasar Neumann, who created the design for the magnificent staircase, an enchanting creation full of dynamism and elegance. The magical interplay of architecture, sculpture, painting and garden design made the Brühl Palaces a masterpiece of German Rococo.
UNESCO honoured history and present of the Rococo Palaces by inscribing Augustusburg Palace – together with Falkenlust Palace and their extensive gardens – on the World Heritage List in 1984. From 1949 onwards, Augustusburg Palace was used for representative purposes by the German Federal President and the Federal Government for many decades.
In 1728, Dominique Girard designed the palace gardens according to French models. Owing to constant renovation and care, it is today one of the most authentic examples of 18th century garden design in Europe. Next to the Baroque gardens, Peter Joseph Lenné redesigned the forested areas based on English landscaping models. Today it is a wonderful place to have a walk.