St. Nicholas' Church is the oldest of the three major parish churches of the Hanseatic city of Stralsund. The construction began as a hall church with a tower in 1234, after Stralsund acquired city rights. After 1270, the unfinished St. Nicholas' Church was rebuilt as a basilica, following the design of St. Mary's Church in Lübeck. The just-completed choir of the church hall had to be demolished to make way for the choir of the new basilica, which consisted of an inner choir and an ambulatory. Around the chancel, which consisted of five sides of an imaginary octagon, five chapels were created. In the beginning, the building material of the church building was brick. Over the course of time, at least 65 different types of stone were used.
The construction of the western tower began in 1300. By 1314, the tower had reached a height of 13 meters. At that time, the council decided to build two towers. Around 1350, the construction of the nave between the two towers was completed. The buttresses of the aisles were connected externally to create space in the interior. The buttresses were thus drawn inward and vaulted chapels were built in the space freed up between the towers. Of the two towers, the south tower was first completed, probably in the early 15th century. This was followed by the completion of construction of the north tower. The two Gothic towers were equally high.
The wealth of the city of Stralsund was reflected in the very large number of altars in the church. There were no less than 56 altars in the chancel, nave, and between the buttresses of the aisles. The bulk of the altars were removed from the church after the Bildersturm of 1525. Since the introduction of Reformation, the chapels were mainly used as spaces for burying distinguished citizens.
A fire in 1662 destroyed the wooden spires of the towers. In 1667, the southern tower was provided with a Baroque dome, while the northern tower was closed with a temporary roof. During the American bombing of Stralsund on October 6, 1944, the roof and windows of St. Nicholas' Church were damaged. Repairs started in 1947.
The high altar was made by a Stralsund sculptor around 1480. The altar of the tailors' guild, built at the end of the 15th century and placed in a privileged position near the high altar, has preserved. The mayor's altar (1510), the altar of the Junge family (1430), the so-called 'altar of the Bergen merchants', the altars of the basketmakers and saddlemakers, and the Olav altar also still exist.
In the north ambulatory, there is a statue of Anna Selbdritt (Virgin and Child with Saint Anne) dating back to the late 13th century. The statue shows the remnants of the original paint and is one of the earliest statues of Anna Selbdritt in the Baltic region.
Behind the high altar is the astronomical clock, which was built in 1394 by Nikolaus Lilienfeld. The clock is part of a whole series of monumental clocks, which were installed since the 14th century in churches in different cities of the Hanseatic League. It has a wheel train with a mechanical escapement. In addition to day and night times, the positions of the sun, moon, and fixed stars can also be read off the clock. It is the oldest almost completely preserved astronomical clock in the Baltic region and also the oldest mechanical clock in the world that still contains its original wheels.References:
The famous Italian Medici family have given two queens to France: Catherine, the spouse of Henry II, and Marie, widow of Henry IV, who built the current Luxembourg palace. Maria di Medici had never been happy at the Louvre, still semi-medieval, where the fickle king, did not hesitate to receive his mistresses. The death of Henry IV, assassinated in 1610, left the way open for Marie's project. When she became regent, she was able to give special attention to the construction of an imposing modern residence that would be reminiscent of the Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens in Florence, where she grew up. The development of the 25-hectare park, which was to serve as a jewel-case for the palace, began immediately.
The architect, Salomon de Brosse, began the work in 1615. Only 16 years later was the palace was completed. Palace of Luxembourg affords a transition between the Renaissance and the Classical period.
In 1750, the Director of the King's Buildings installed in the wing the first public art-gallery in France, in which French and foreign canvases of the royal collections are shown. The Count of Provence and future Louis XVIII, who was living in Petit Luxembourg, had this gallery closed in 1780: leaving to emigrate, he fled from the palace in June 1791.
During the French Revolution the palace was first abandoned and then moved as a national prison. After that it was the seat of the French Directory, and in 1799, the home of the Sénat conservateur and the first residence of Napoleon Bonaparte, as First Consul of the French Republic. The old apartments of Maria di Medici were altered. The floor, which the 80 senators only occupied in 1804, was built in the middle of the present Conference Hall.
Beginning in 1835 the architect Alphonse de Gisors added a new garden wing parallel to the old corps de logis, replicating the look of the original 17th-century facade so precisely that it is difficult to distinguish at first glance the old from the new. The new senate chamber was located in what would have been the courtyard area in-between.
The new wing included a library (bibliothèque) with a cycle of paintings (1845–1847) by Eugène Delacroix. In the 1850s, at the request of Emperor Napoleon III, Gisors created the highly decorated Salle des Conférences, which influenced the nature of subsequent official interiors of the Second Empire, including those of the Palais Garnier.
During the German occupation of Paris (1940–1944), Hermann Göring took over the palace as the headquarters of the Luftwaffe in France, taking for himself a sumptuous suite of rooms to accommodate his visits to the French capital. Since 1958 the Luxembourg palace has been the seat of the French Senate of the Fifth Republic.