Frankfurt Cathedral (Kaiserdom Sankt Bartholomäus, St. Bartholomew's Imperial Cathedral) is the largest religious building in Frankfurt and a former collegiate church. As former election and coronation church of the Holy Roman Empire, the cathedral is one of the major buildings of the Empire history and was mainly in the 19th century a symbol of national unity.
The present church building is the third church in the same place. Since the late 19th excavated century buildings can be traced back to the 7th century. The history is closely linked with the General history of Frankfurt and the Frankfurt old town because the cathedral had an associated role as religious counterpart of the Royal Palace Frankfurt. The St. Bartholomew's is the main church of Frankfurt and was constructed in the 14th and 15th centuries on the foundation of an earlier church from the Merovingian time.
From 1356 onwards, emperors of the Holy Roman Empire were elected in this collegiate church as kings in Germany, and from 1562 to 1792, emperors-elect were crowned here. The imperial elections were held in the Wahlkapelle, a chapel on the south side of the choir built for this purpose in 1425 and the anointing and crowning of the emperors-elect as kings in Germany took place before the central altar–believed to enshrine part of the head of St. Bartholomew – in the crossing of the church, at the entrance to the choir.
In the course of the German Mediatisation the city of Frankfurt finally secularised and appropriated the remaining Catholic churches and their endowments of earning assets, however, leaving the usage of the church buildings to the existing Catholic parishes. Thus St. Bartholomew's became of the city's dotation churches, owned and maintained by the city but used by Catholic or Lutheran congregations.
St. Bartholomew's was seen as symbol for national unity in Germany, especially during the 19th century. Although it had never been a bishop's seat, it was the largest church in Frankfurt and its role in imperial politics, including crowning of medieval German emperors, made the church one of the most important buildings of Imperial history.
In 1867, St. Bartholomew's was destroyed by a fire and rebuilt in its present style. During World War II, between October 1943 and March 1944, the old town of Frankfurt, the biggest old Gothic town in Central Europe, was devastated by six bombardments of the Allied Air Forces. The greatest losses occurred in an attack by the Royal Air Force on March 22, 1944, when more than a thousand buildings of the old town, most of them half-timbered houses, were destroyed. St. Bartholomew's suffered severe damage; the interior was burned out completely. The building was reconstructed in the 1950s.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.