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 Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.
According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while in 961 Al-Hakam II enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of such reforms was carried out by Almanzor in 987. It was connected to the Caliph"s palace by a raised walkway, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers – as well as Christian Kings who built their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.
In 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the centre of the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. Alfonso X oversaw the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel within the mosque. The kings who followed added further Christian features, such as King Henry II rebuilding the chapel in the 14th century. The minaret of the mosque was also converted to the bell tower of the cathedral. It was adorned with Santiago de Compostela"s captured cathedral bells. Following a windstorm in 1589, the former minaret was further reinforced by encasing it within a new structure.
The most significant alteration was the building of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the expansive structure. The insertion was constructed by permission of Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon. Artisans and architects continued to add to the existing structure until the late 18th century.
The building"s floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large and flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.
In planning the mosque, the architects incorporated a number of Roman columns with choice capitals. Some of the columns were already in the Gothic structure; others were sent from various regions of Iberia as presents from the governors of provinces. Ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass were used in the decorations. Marvellous mosaics and azulejos were designed. Later, the immense temple embodied all the styles of Morisco architecture into one composition.
The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, granite and porphyry. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple that had occupied the site previously, as well as other Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. The double arches were an innovation, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch.