Bratislava's three-nave Gothic cathedral is built on the site of a previous, Romanesque church, from 1221. After 1291, when Bratislava was given the privileges of a town, the church was rebuilt to become part of the city walls (its tower served as a defensive bastion). The present church was consecrated in 1452. The interior of the church is large – 69.37 metres long, 22.85 metres wide and 16.02 metres high – and features a grand internal divided portal with a preserved tympanum and a relief of the Holy Trinity. It has four chapels: the canons’ chapel, the Gothic chapel of Sophia of Bavaria (widow of the Czech King Wenceslas IV), the chapel of St Anne and the baroque chapel of St John the Merciful. The portal of the southern antechamber represents the oldest example of Renaissance architecture in Slovakia.
Between 1563 and 1830 St Martin's served as the coronation church for Hungarian kings and their consorts, marked to this day by a 300-kg gilded replica of the Hungarian royal crown perched on the top of the cathedral's 85-metre-tall neo-Gothic tower. At the beginning of September each year the pomp and circumstance of the coronation returns to Bratislava in a faithful reconstruction of the ceremony.
The first monumental work of central-European sculpture made from lead can be found inside the cathedral. It was created by Georg Raphael Donner for the main altar of St Martin's in 1734. The group is now in the side nave of the church as a free statue on a pedestal. It depicts St Martin sitting on a horse rampant, bending to a beggar and cutting his overcoat to share it with the poor man.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).