Årdal old church (Årdal gamle kirke) is one of the most distinctive and beautiful wooden Renaissance churches from the 17th century. The church was built in three stages, the first stage in 1619. Later, as the church grew too small, one of the short walls was sawn out in order to lengthen the church. This explains its unusual shape. Inside, the church has many beautiful painted decorations of prophets, angels and flowers.
The church was marked by the work of two local artists, the German painter Gottfried Hendtzschel and his student, craftsman Lauritz Snekker. The altarpiece and the pulpit was painted by Hendtzschel. They are made of Snekker who is also responsible for most of the carpentry work. The artistic efforts of Hendtzschel and Snekker within various churches in the vicinity formed a part of the Stranganger Renaissance, the cultural period which peaked in the middle of the 17th century in the area around Stavanger, Norway.References:
Olargues is a good example of a French medieval town and rated as one of the most beautiful villages in France. It was occupied by the Romans, the Vandals and the Visigoths. At the end of the 11th century the Jaur valley came under the authority of the Château of the Viscount of Minerve. The following centuries saw a succession of wars and epidemics, and it was not until the 18th century that Olargues became re-established. This was due to the prosperity of local agriculture and artisanal industry.
The Pont du Diable, 'Devil's Bridge', is said to date back to 1202 and is reputed to be the scene of transactions between the people of Olargues and the devil. The old village is clustered around the belltower, which was formerly the main tower of the castle (Romanesque construction). The old shops have marble frontages and overhanging upper storeys. A museum of popular traditions and art is to be found in the stairs of the Commanderie.