There are two adjacent medieval churches in Gran called as Søsterkirkene, the sister churches. According to local folklore, the two churches were commissioned by two sisters who had fallen out and therefore would not be seen in the same church. It is, however, not uncommon for medieval churches with different functions to be built close to one another.
The smaller one, dedicated to St. Mary, was built probably before 1150. It is a single nave church, which either acted as a monastic church or a church for Gran parish and contains Romanesque and Gothic elements. A fire in 1813 gutted the church and it was not rebuilt until 1859. Until recently it was used as a chapel, but is now open for normal services. It can seat around 150 people.
The larger of the two churches is called Nikolaikirken (St. Nicholas Church). This church probably acted as a church for Hadeland parish and can seat around 250 people. Because of later rebuilding it is difficult to establish an exact date of construction. Based on stylistic evidence, however, it is thought that the church was built sometime between 1150 and 1200. The church is built as a basilica church with solid Roman columns and plastered walls. Much of the original interior has been lost in fires and in subsequent rebuilding.
In the south-eastern part of the churchyard there is a medieval stone tower, Klokketårnet, the original function of which is unknown. It is possible that the tower, which from the mid-19th century was used as a bell-tower, was originally used as a defence tower or refuge. The 11th century Granavollen Runestone can be found behind Nikolaikirken.
The towers of the Søsterkirkene form the base coat of arms to Gran municipality. Noted poet and journalist, Aasmund Olafsson Vinje, is buried in the cemetery of Søsterkirkene. A monument with a bust of Vinjes by sculptor Brynjulf Bergslien was erected at the site.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.