The Basilica of St. Nicholas is the major Catholic church in Amsterdam. Officially the church was called St. Nicholas inside the Walls, i.e. the oldest part of the Amsterdam defence works. The architect, Adrianus Bleijs (1842-1912) designed the church basing himself on a combination of several revival styles of which Neo-Baroque and neo-Renaissance are the most prominent models.
The facade is crowned by two towers with a rose window in between. The centre of this window is formed by a bas relief depicting Christ and the four Evangelists, made in the Van den Bossche and Crevels workshop in 1886. A sculpture of the patron saint of both the church and the city of Amsterdam was placed in a niche in the upper section of the gable top. The well-known sculptor Bart van Hove (1850-1914) made the sculpture in 1886. The crossing is articulated by a large octagonal tower with a baroque dome and lantern and crowned by a cross. The basis of the groundplan is the scheme of the classic three-aisled cross-basilica, i.e. a nave, two aisles and a single transept. The choir is located as is usual, at the end of the nave. In the corners formed by the transept and the nave, two chapels are located, traditionally devoted to Mary and Joseph.
The basilica has a collection of religious murals. Above the high altar is the crown of Maximilian I, which is a symbol seen throughout Amsterdam. Inside the newly renovated church, a 19th-century Sauer Organ can be found, on which concerts are given and mass is accompanied.References:
Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.
Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.