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:
The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.
In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.
The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.
The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.