The history of the original estate of Vanajanlinna, Äikäälä, goes back to the Middle Ages. Historical records mention Olle af Aeykaelum (Olli of Äikäälä) as the owner of the Äikäälä estate in 1374. After him the farm has had many owners and a colourful history as a freehold and holding farm used for agriculture.
The actual history of Vanajalinna begins from the year 1918, when the industrialist Carl Wilhelm Rosenlew bought the Äikäälä estate. His idea was to build a hunting lodge for politicians and economical elite of the new, independent Finland. The Vanajanlinna palace was designed by Sigurd Frosterus and it represents baroque, renaissance and British manor architecture styles. The massive red-brick palace was completed in 1924.
After the death of C. W. Rosenlew Vanajanlinna was left for minimal use and in 1941 Rosenlews decided to sell the estate. There were two interested buyers. Risto Ryti, the President of Finland, wanted Vanajanlinna as the President´s summer residence instead of the present official summer residence Kultaranta in Naantali. The other interested was an immensely rich German munitions industrialist Willy Daugs. Despite Risto Ryti´s strong opposition, Vanajanlinna was sold to Daugs, who then moved to the house.
After Germany was defeated in the war, all German property in Finland was transferred to the Soviet Union as war reparations, including Vanajanlinna. The Russian embassy used Vanajanlinna for holiday residence few times, but the main building began to decay. In 1956 Yrjö Sirola Institute acquired the estate and moved it as the folk high school. After the acquisition over a half of the land was conveyed to veterans to build small farms and dwelling houses. The Sirola Institute was shut down in 1994 and in 1996 the buildings and land of Vanajanlinna were acquired by the City of Hämeenlinna.
Today Vanajanlinna provides hotel, restaurant, conference and event services. There is also a high class golf course.
Seville's cathedral, Santa Maria de la Sede, is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, and is recognised as UNESCO World Heritage. After its completion in the early 16th century, Seville Cathedral supplanted Hagia Sophia as the largest cathedral in the world, a title the Byzantine church had held for nearly a thousand years.
The basilica occupies the site of the great Aljama mosque, built in the late 12th century by the Almohads, the ruling Moorish dynasty, of which the only remaining parts are the Patio de Naranjas, the Puerta del Perdon (on Calle Alemanes, on the north side), and the Giralda (formerly the minaret, now the belltower).
Shortly after Seville's conquest by Ferdinand III, the mosque was converted into the city's cathedral. Its orientation was changed and its spaces partitioned and adorned to suit Christian worship practices. The internal space was gradually divided into chapels by constructing walls in the bays along the northern and southern walls. Almost the entire eastern half of the cathedral was occupied by the royal chapel that would hold the bodies of Ferdinand, his wife and Alfonso the Wise.
In 1401, city leaders decided to build a new cathedral to replace the grand mosque that served as the cathedral until then. Construction continued until 1506. The clergy of the parish offered half their stipends to pay for architects, artists, stained glass artisans, masons, carvers, craftsman and labourers and other expenses. Five years after construction ended, in 1511, the crossing lantern, or cimborrio, collapsed and work on the cathedral recommenced. The crossing again collapsed in 1888 due an earthquake, and work on the dome continued until at least 1903.
The interior has the longest nave of any cathedral in Spain. The central nave rises to a height of 42 metres. In the main body of the cathedral, the most noticeable features are the great boxlike choir loft, which fills the central portion of the nave, and the vast Gothic retablo of carved scenes from the life of Christ. This altarpiece was the lifetime work of a single craftsman, Pierre Dancart.
The Capilla Mayor (Great Chapel), dominated by a vast Gothic retablo (altarpiece) comprised of 45 carved scenes from the life of Christ, as well as Santa Maria de la Sede, the cathedral's patron saint. The lifetime's work of a single craftsman, Pierre Dancart, this is the ultimate masterpiece of the cathedral - the largest and richest altarpiece in the world and one of the finest examples of Gothic woodcarving anywhere.
The Giralda is the bell tower of the Cathedral of Seville. Its height is 105 m. The Giralda is the former minaret of the mosque that stood on the site under Muslim rule, and was built to resemble the minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech, Morocco. It was converted into a bell tower for the cathedral after the Reconquista, although the topmost section dates from the Renaissance.
The tomb of Christopher Columbus is one of the main attractions of the cathedral for visitors, housing the remains of the great explorer who died in poverty in Valladolid. The tomb itself is more recent, from the 1892, with four bearers presenting the kingdoms of Castile, Leon, Aragon and Navarra.