Oddernes Church is the oldest building in Kristiansand from c. 1040. It was originally built of stone and the tower was later made of wood. The chancel has rubble walls and a semi-circular apse. In the 1630s the church was extended by 8 meters after a gift of funds from King Christian IV in connection with a visit in 1635. The money was used for major repairs in the years 1642-1644 and in 1699 for constructing the bell tower. There are three bells in the tower, the oldest from the 13th century.
The organ, altarpiece, pulpit and the tower were all the result of gifts from the first Mayor of Kristiansand, Christen Nielssøn Wendelboe and wife. The pulpit is a classical Baroque. The minstrels' gallery facing the church room along the north side of the church is built in a simple Renaissance style. It has 44 segments with images of prophets, apostles, and allegorical figures.
A new interior was installed in the church in 1788 and was elaborately decorated. The decorations and embellishments of the minstrel's gallery and the walls were covered with brown paint in 1827. In 1927 the paint was removed.
Findings in burial mounds in the area reveal to a settlement dating back to AD 400. It is also believed that there was a royal residence in Oddernes prior to 800. Some historians believe there was once a wooden church or stave church on the site where the present stone church is located.
A rune stone (now located in the porch) that originally stood in the churchyard shows the site has been central to the community even earlier in view of its possible reference to St. Olaf.References:
Het Steen is a medieval fortress in the old city centre of Antwerp. Built after the Viking incursions in the early Middle Ages as the first stone fortress of Antwerp, Het Steen is Antwerp's oldest building and used to be its oldest urban centre.
Previously known as Antwerpen Burcht (fortress), Het Steen gained its current name in around 1520, after significant rebuilding under Charles V. The fortress made it possible to control the access to the Scheldt, the river on whose bank it stands. It was used as a prison between 1303 and 1827. The largest part of the fortress, including dozens of historic houses and the oldest church of the city, was demolished in the 19th century when the quays were straightened to stop the silting up of the Scheldt. The remaining building, heavily changed, contains a shipping museum, with some old canal barges displayed on the quay outside.
In 1890 Het Steen became the museum of archeology and in 1952 an annex was added to house the museum of Antwerp maritime history, which in 2011 moved to the nearby Museum Aan de Stroom. Here you’ll also find a war memorial to the Canadian soldiers in WWII.
There are some beautiful plaques on the back side of the Steen Castle at Antwerp. Canadian visitors will especially want to see the plaques thanking the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry for their part in the liberation of Antwerp, in 1944.
At the entrance to Het Steen is a bas-relief of Semini, above the archway, around 2nd century. Semini is the Scandinavian God of youth and fertility (with symbolic phallus). A historical plaque near Het Steen explains that women of the town appealed to Semini when they desired children; the god was reviled by later religious clergy. Inhabitants of Antwerp previously referred to themselves as 'children of Semini'.
At the entrance bridge to the castle is a statue of a giant and two humans. It depicts the giant Lange Wapper who used to terrorise the inhabitants of the city in medieval times.