After the Oude Kerk ('Old Church') grew too small for the expanding population of the town, the bishop of Utrecht in 1408 gave permission to build a second parish church in Amsterdam. The Nieuwe Kerk ('new church') was consecrated to St. Mary and St. Catharine.
The church was damaged by the city fires of 1421 and 1452 and burned down almost entirely in 1645, after which it was rebuilt in Gothic style. It underwent major renovation in 1892–1914, which added many neo-Gothic details, and was again renovated in 1959–1980. It was the renovation in the 70's that became too expensive for the Dutch Reformed Church, and when they said the church would be closed most of the time to save money on maintenance, it was decided to transfer ownership in 1979 to a newly formed cultural organization called the Nationale Stichting De Nieuwe Kerk.
The Nieuwe Kerk is no longer used for church services but is used as an exhibition space. It is also used for organ recitals. There is a café in one of the buildings attached to the church that has an entrance to the church (during opening hours). There is a museum store inside the entrance that sells postcards, books, and gifts having to do with the church and its exhibitions.
The Nieuwe Kerk is a burial site for Dutch naval heroes, including Admiral Michiel de Ruyter, Commodore Jan van Galen, and Jan van Speyk. The poet and playwright Joost van den Vondel is also buried in the church.References:
The Château Comtal (Count’s Castle) is a medieval castle within the Cité of Carcassonne, the largest city in Europe with its city walls still intact. The Château Comtal has a strong claim to be called a 'Cathar Castle'. When the Catholic Crusader army arrived in 1209 they first attacked Raymond-Roger Trencavel's castrum at Bèziers and then moved on to his main stronghold at Carcassonne.
The castle with rectangular shape is separated from the city by a deep ditch and defended by two barbicans. There are six towers curtain walls.
The castle was restored in 1853 by the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. It was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1997.