Nederhemert Castle has been built, rebuilt and expanded numerous times throughout its turbulent history. It started life as a keep in the 13th century and was expanded into a polygonal castle with four towers over several centuries. In 1945, the castle was destroyed by fire and fell into ruin. It was restored to its former glory in 2005.
Nederhemert castle is situated on an ancient bend in the river Maas. As with many castles, the date when the castle was first built is unknown, yet Johan van Hemert is named as owner of this ‘stronghold at Hemert’ in 1310. The oldest parts of the castle date from the end of the 13th century: a two-storey keep and a cellar with notable Bohemian-style vaulting. Some 30 years later, the keep was expanded with the addition of two corner towers - one rectangular, one round - with a walled courtyard in between. A great hall and gateway were added around 1350, and a hexagonal tower was added in the 15th century. These additions transformed Nederhemert into an imposing castle.
The castle remained as it was for several centuries until it was renovated into a comfortable country house at the end of the 19th century. The castle was plastered and given crenellations, a veranda and a balcony in neo-Gothic style. Over its 650-year history, Nederhemert was home to many noble families. It even boasted a bed said to have belonged to Maarten van Rossum, the Duke of Guelders’ most notorious field marshal. At the end of WWII, the castle and its contents were completely destroyed by fire.
The last owners sold what was left of the castle and its surrounding parkland to the Dutch state, which transferred the estate, in turn, to the Geldersch Landschap and Geldersche Kasteelen national heritage foundations. There was a lack of funding for the restoration for some time and the castle fell into ruin. Restoration work finally took place between 2001 and 2005, returning Nederhemert, as much as possible, to its medieval glory. The castle now houses offices and is only open to the public in a limited capacity.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.