Hollenfels Castle, with a history dating back to the 11th century, is one of the castles located close to the River Eisch in the so-called Valley of the Seven Castles in central Luxembourg. Located at the southern end of the village of Hollenfels, the castle stands high above the River Eisch. A path with steep steps and wooden bridges leads to the foot of the castle where hollows in the rock can be seen, explaining the origin of the castle's name which literally means 'hollow cliff'. Indeed, there are several tunnels running through the cliffs below the castle. Access to the castle is by means of a brick bridge over the defensive ditch.
The first mention of Hollenfels was in 1129 when Ludolf, Lord of Hollenfels, was given the water rights of the abbey of Marienthal which lies just 400 metres away. The majestic tower, 39 metres tall, with its sumptious Gothic rooms reached by means of a spiral staircase was built in 1380. At the lowest level is the oven room, next comes the servants dining room, then the Gothic Room for the lords of the castle together with a chapel, sometimes used as a bedroom, and finally the armory at the top. The rooms have impressive fireplaces, windows set back in the sturdy walls and a number of sculptures.
Until 1477, the castle belonged to the lords of Hollenfeld and Elter. It then successively became the property of Raville of Ansembourg, Greiffenklau, Raugraves of Salm, von Thinner, von Hohenstein and Brouckhoven-Hohenstein. In the 1680s, the castle was captured by the French, taken back by the Spaniards and finally recaptured by the French. The mansion on the north-eastern side of the keep was added in 1729 and was restyled with a Baroque finish in 1921. In 1929, when the castle was falling into ruin, restoration work was carried out by the Luxembourg architect J. Schoenberg. Between 1945 and 1948, the castle was used as a camp for prisoners of war. In 1948, the Luxembourg State acquired the building and created a youth hostel there.
Today the castle houses State facilities directed towards improving the education of young people. Open throughout the year, the services allow young people to experience the historic building while coming in close contact with nature. The conditions are enhanced by the nearby youth hostel.References:
The St Sophia's Cathedral was built between 1045-1050 inside the Novgorod Kremlin (fortress). It is one of the earliest stone structures of northern Russia. Its height is 38 m. Originally it was taller, for during the past nine centuries the lower part of the building became concealed by the two-metre thick cultural layer. The cathedral was built by Prince Vladimir, the son of Yaroslav the Wise, and until the 1130s this principal church of the city also served as the sepulchre of Novgorodian princes. For the Novgorodians, St Sophia became synonymous with their town, the symbol of civic power and independence.
The five-domed church looks simpler but no less impressive than its prototype, the thirteen-domed St Sophia of Kiev. The cathedral exterior is striking in its majesty and epic splendour evoking the memories of Novgorod's glorious past and invincible might. In the 11th century it looked more imposing than now. Its facade represented a gigantic mosaic of huge, coarsely trimmed irregular slabs of flagstone and shell rock. In some places (particularly on the apses), the wall was covered with mortar, smoothly polished, drawn up to imitate courses of brick or of whitestone slabs, and slightly coloured. As a result, the facade was not white, as it is today, but multicoloured. The play of stone, decorative painting and the building materials of various texture enhanced the impression of austere simplicity and introduced a picturesque effect.
The two-storied galleries extend along the building's southern, western and northern sides, with a stair-tower constructed at the north-eastern corner. The cathedral has three entrances - the southern, western and northern, of which the western was the main one intended for ceremonial processions. A gate standing at the entrance is known as the Sigtuna Gate (mid-12th century); according to legend, it was brought from the Swedish town of Sigtuna in 1187. The second name of the gate derives from the town of Magdeburg, where it was made. The two leaves are decorated with biblical and evangelical scenes in cast bronze relief. In the lower left corner there are portraits of the craftsmen who created this superb specimen of medieval Western European bronze-work. An inscription in Latin gives their names, Riquin and Weissmut. The small central figure - judging from an inscription in Slavonic - is a representation of the Russian master craftsman Avraam, who assembled the gate.
There is yet another bronze gate in the cathedral, called the Korsun Gate. Made in the 11th century in Chersonesos, Byzantium, it leads from the southern gallery into the Nativity Side-Chapel. Legend has it that the gate was handed over to Novgorod as a gift of Prince Yaroslav the Wise (c. 978 - 1054).
The interior of the cathedral is as majestic as its exterior. It is divided by huge piers into five aisles, three of which end in altar apses. In the south-western corner, inside the tower, there is a wide spiral in relatively small, modest buildings of the 12th - 16th centuries.