Verona Cathedral was erected after two Palaeo-Christian churches on the same site had been destroyed by an earthquake in 1117. Built in Romanesque style, the cathedral was consecrated on September 13, 1187. The structure was later modified by several renovation interventions, although the plan has remained unchanged.
The façade is divided into three parts, with a pediment and a two storied projecting porch or protiro embellished with sculpture, which is the work of the twelfth-century sculptor Nicholaus, who also executed and signed the entranceway at the abbey church of San Zeno, also in Verona, and Ferrara Cathedral. The portico is supported on the backs of two griffins, similar to those from the dismantled Porta dei Mesi at Ferrara. The lunette depicts the Virgin holding the Christ child in high relief, centered between two low relief scenes, the Annunciation to the Shepherds and the Adoration of the Magi. On the lintel in medallions are the three theological virtues, Faith, Charity and Hope. Ten figures of prophets are set in the doorposts and jambs; the four symbols of the Evangelists and the Hand of God are set above in the barrel vault of the first story of the porch. Set into the walls on either side of the portal are figures of Roland and Oliver, who as holy warriors, remind one of the constant need to provide protection to the church.
The Gothic windows in the facade provide evidence of the renovation that took place in the 14th century. The Baroque addition at the upper part of the facade is part of 17th-century additions. On the south side of the church is a second portal executed in the so-called Lombard or Como style. The main apse has retained its integrity and as such is an example of mid-12th-century architecture. The bell tower, begun in the 16th century by Michele Sanmicheli and left unfinished, has two orders of columns with highly decorated capitals, bas-reliefs and traces of 14th-century frescoes. It contains nine bells in the scale of A. The tenor weight is 4566 kg. The bells are rung with the tradition of Veronese bellringing art.
The current appearance of the interior dates from the 15th-century renovations. It has a nave and two aisles divided by tall pilasters in red Verona marble, which support Gothic arcades. The first three chapels on each side are in the same style, and house mostly Renaissance artworks by Veronese artists. The nave ends with the main Chapel (Cappella Maggiore), also by Sanmicheli.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.