Elmelunde Church is famous for its frescos. It stands high above the surroundings and the impressive whitewashed building can be seen from miles around and has been used as a landmark by sailors in the Baltic Sea. Elmelunde is the oldest church on the island of Møn, apparently constructed on a site where a wooden church once stood. The flat mound, to the north of the church, is even older. It is believed to be a heathen burial ground from the bronze age.
The present church dates back to 1085 when parts of the present choir and nave were built in the Romanesque style. Only the triumphal arch and the sidewalls remain from this period. The earliest additions were carried out around the year 1200 when the church was extended towards the west. Work on the tower began around 1300 but was not completed until 1500. The wooden ceiling was replaced by Gothic crossvaulting in 1462.
The church's many well-preserved frescos or kalkmalerier cover the Gothic vaulting of the nave and choir. Like the murals in two of Møn's other churches, Keldby and Fanefjord, they were painted in the Gothic style by the so-called Elmelunde Master, probably towards the end of the 15th century. In the so-called Biblia pauperum style, they present many of the most popular stories from the Old and New Testaments.
The paintings were hidden for centuries as, following the reformation, they were covered with layer after layer of limewash. In 1969, the National Museum of Denmark undertook major restoration work on the wall paintings. The vaults were cleaned, earlier restoration work was corrected and new frescos were revealed. The paintings in the nave and choir were discovered in 1885 and initially restored in 1895. During the most recent restoration work, it was found that the church had earlier been decorated with Romanesque frescos, traces of which could be seen on the walls of the nave and on the triumphal arch. However, until now, it has not been possible to restore them.
The most comprehensive wallpainting work was in fact carried out by the Elmelunde Master presenting a variety of scenes from the story of theCreation and the New Testament but also with illustrations of everyday activities such as ploughing and hunting. Between the paintings, margins with frills depicting flowers, plants and other ornaments can be seen. The figures all have sleepy faces, a characteristic of the Elmelund Master. Colours include black, ochre, caput mortuum, and cinnabar which has now faded to verdigris.
The richly carved altar, 1646, was a gift from King Christian IV´s daughter, Leonora Christina, and her husband Corfitz Ulfeldt. The central frame depicts the institution of the Holy Communion. The sides present the evangelists Mark and John. The pulpit, also a present from the Ulfeldts, is borne by the apostle Peter and is from the year 1649. Large representations of the four evangelists fill the larger frames while the corner frames house their symbols.References:
The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.
The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.
The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.
The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.
Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.
Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.