St. Catherine's Church, built in 1861-1867, is probably the highlight in the first period of P.J.H. Cuypers' long and fruitful career. It's a three-aisled cruciform basilican church with a three-aisled transept and a choir with an ambulatory and three hexagonal radiating chapels. At the front the church has three connected porches and two differently detailed towers. Its design was based on 13th-century French Gothic churches, especially those of Chartres and Reims. The church replaced a derelict medieval church. For this church Cuypers used many of the ideas about symbolism in Gothicism, published by J.A. Alberdingk Thijm, Cuypers' friend and future brother-in-law and one of the leading members in the movement for equal rights for catholics. In one important aspect Cuypers does not follow these ideas; the church is not oriented, which means that the choir is not built at the eastern part of the church. The difference between the two towers is an idea that Cuypers did follow.
Both towers are 70 metres tall. Alberdingk Thijm was convinced that a long lost secret symbolism was the reason behind the difference between the two towers, as seen on many French Gothic churches. For this church Cuypers designed two different towers. The southern tower is the more refined of the two and represents the Ivory Tower, symbol of the purity of Mary. The northern tower is decorated with turrets and battlements; this 'defensive' look represents the Tower of David, symbol of strength. It is nowadays widely believed that the difference between the towers of medieval churches was caused by financial reasons more than anything else, so Alberdingk Thijm was probably wrong. More symbolism is found in the many rose-windows, referring to St. Catharina, whose attribute is a wheel. The porches are decorated with sculptures, executed in natural stone.
In 1942 the church was heavily damaged by bombs, and was restored after the war by architect C.H. de Bever. Vincent van Gogh painted a pencil sketch of St. Catherine's church in 1885.References:
Heraclea Lyncestis was an ancient Greek city in Macedon, ruled later by the Romans. It was founded by Philip II of Macedon in the middle of the 4th century BC. The city was named in honor of the mythological hero Heracles. The name Lynkestis originates from the name of the ancient kingdom, conquered by Philip, where the city was built.
Heraclea was a strategically important town during the Hellenistic period, as it was at the edge of Macedon"s border with Epirus to the west and Paeonia to the north, until the middle of the 2nd century BC, when the Romans conquered Macedon and destroyed its political power. The main Roman road in the area, Via Egnatia went through Heraclea, and Heraclea was an important stop. The prosperity of the city was maintained mainly due to this road.
The Roman emperor Hadrian built a theatre in the center of the town, on a hill, when many buildings in the Roman province of Macedonia were being restored. It began being used during the reign of Antoninus Pius. Inside the theatre there were three animal cages and in the western part a tunnel. The theatre went out of use during the late 4th century AD, when gladiator fights in the Roman Empire were banned, due to the spread of Christianity, the formulation of the Eastern Roman Empire, and the abandonment of, what was then perceived as, pagan rituals and entertainment.
In the early Byzantine period (4th to 6th centuries AD) Heraclea was an important episcopal centre. A small and a great basilica, the bishop"s residence, and a funerary basilica and the necropolis are some of the remains of this period. Three naves in the Great Basilica are covered with mosaics of very rich floral and figurative iconography; these well preserved mosaics are often regarded as fine examples of the early Christian art period.
The city was sacked by Ostrogoth/Visigoth forces, commanded by Theodoric the Great in 472 AD and again in 479 AD. It was restored in the late 5th and early 6th century. When an earthquake struck in 518 AD, the inhabitants of Heraclea gradually abandoned the city. Subsequently, at the eve of the 7th century, the Dragovites, a Slavic tribe pushed down from the north by the Avars, settled in the area. The last coin issue dates from ca. 585, which suggests that the city was finally captured by the Slavs. As result, in place of the deserted city theatre several huts were built.
The Episcopacy Residence was excavated between 1970 and 1975. The western part was discovered first and the southern side is near the town wall. The luxury rooms are located in the eastern part. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th rooms all have mosaic floors. Between the 3rd and 4th rooms there is a hole that led to the eastern entrance of the residence. The hole was purposefully created between the 4th and 6th century.