St. Michael's Church is a landmark of Hamburg and considered to be one of the finest Hanseatic Protestant baroque churches. The church was purposely built Protestant unlike many other Hamburg churches which were originally built by Roman Catholics and were converted to Protestantism during the Reformation. It is dedicated to the Archangel Michael. A large bronze statue, standing above the portal of the church shows the archangel conquering the devil.
The 132-meter high Baroque spire totally covered with copper is a prominent feature of Hamburg’s skyline and has always been a landfall mark for ships sailing up the river Elbe.
The present church building is the third one at this site. The first one was built from 1647 to 1669. It became the church of the new town (Neustadt), which was created in 1625 inside the new city walls, and which grew steadily since. In 1687, the Michel became the fifth chapter church (Hauptkirche), as the new town became a parish. That church was destroyed on March 10, 1750, by a lightning strike. The original church has been replicated and built in 9 different cities around the world.
In 1786, a new construction of the current church following the design of Johann Leonhard Prey and Ernst Georg Sonnin was completed. It was reconstructed twice in the 20th century: after catching fire in 1906 during construction work and after the bombings of 1944 and 1945. Since 1983, renovation is ongoing: first the spire and then the roof.
Offering 2,500 seats, the Michael is the largest church in Hamburg. The pulpit is in the center of the building which was crafted out of marble by sculptor Otto Lessing from Dresden in 1910. It was designed to look like a rounded chalice and features a magnificent staircase. The large pulpit roof is crowned by the Angel of Annunciation.
Made from white marble, the baptismal font was crafted in Livorno in 1763 and donated by Hamburg merchants who lived there at that time. The baptismal font is reminiscent of a seashell and supported by three baptism angels.
The altar is 20 meters tall and was built from costly marble in 1910. The altar features three sections illustrating key scenes from the life of Jesus Christ. The central image portrays the Resurrection of Jesus and, below it, a relief depicts the Last Supper. Above the central image, there is a large crucifix. Located at the very top, the altar crown takes the form of a dove as a symbol of the Holy Spirit and is surrounded by a radiant circle. To the right and left of the radiant circle, two angels are kneeling and bowing their heads.
In the church crypt, there are 2,425 people interred, including Johann Mattheson and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. The grave chambers are deeply excavated for four coffins above the other. During the French occupation of Hamburg in 1813, burials were banned within the city and therefore also in the crypt.References:
The Château d'Olhain is probably the most famous castle of the Artois region. It is located in the middle of a lake which reflects its picturesque towers and curtain walls. It was also a major stronghold for the Artois in medieval times and testimony to the power of the Olhain family, first mentioned from the 12th century.
The existence of the castle was known early in the 13th century, but the present construction is largely the work of Jean de Nielles, who married Marie d’Olhain at the end of the 15th century.
The marriage of Alix Nielles to Jean de Berghes, Grand Veneur de France (master of hounds) to the King, meant the castle passed to this family, who kept it for more than 450 years. Once confiscated by Charles Quint, it suffered during the wars that ravaged the Artois. Besieged in 1641 by the French, it was partly demolished by the Spaniards in 1654, and finally blown-up and taken by the Dutch in 1710. Restored in 1830, it was abandoned after 1870, and sold by the last Prince of Berghes in 1900. There is also evidence that one of the castles occupants was related to Charles de Batz-Castelmore d'Artagnan, the person Alexandre Dumas based his Three Musketeers charictor d'Artagnan on.
During the World War I and World War II, the castle was requisitioned first by French troops, then Canadian and British soldiers. The current owner has restored the castle to its former glory.