Storkyrkan (Great Church, Stockholm Cathedral), officially Church of St. Nicholas, is the oldest church in Gamla Stan, the old town in central Stockholm. It was first mentioned in 1279 and according to tradition was originally built by Birger Jarl, the founder of the city itself. For nearly four hundred years it was the only parish church in the city, the other churches of comparible antiquity originally built to serve the spiritual needs religious communities (e. g., Riddarholm Church). It became a Lutheran Protestant church in 1527.
The parish church since the Middle Ages, covering the whole island on which the Old Town stands, it has also been the cathedral of Stockholm since the Diocese of Stockholm was created out of the Archdiocese of Uppsala and the Diocese of Strängnäs in 1942. Because of its convenient size and its proximity to the earlier royal castle and the present royal palace it has frequently been the site of major events in Swedish history, such as coronations, royal wedding and royal funerals. The last Swedish king to be crowned here was Oscar II in 1873. Crown Princess Victoria, oldest daughter of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, was married to Daniel Westling on 19 June, 2010 at the Storkyrkan, the same date on which her parents were also married in Storkyrkan in 1976.
Inside the church the most famous artefact is the dramatic wooden statue of Saint George and the Dragon attributed to Bernt Notke (1489). The statue, commissioned to commemorate the Battle of Brunkeberg (1471), also serves as a reliquary, containing relics supposedly of Saint George and two other saints.
The church also contains a copy of the oldest known image of Stockholm, the painting Vädersolstavlan ("The Sun Dog Painting"), a 1632 copy of a lost original from 1535. The painting was commissioned by the scholar and reformer Olaus Petri, a 19th century statue of whom is found on the eastern side of the church. It depicts a halo display, e.g. sun dogs, which gives the painting its name and in the 16th century was interpreted as a presage.
The monumental pulpit is the work of Burchard Precht in 1698-1702 and is in a French Baroque style and became the model for a number of other large pulpits in Sweden. The relief on the front of the pulpit itself depicts the story of the Canaanite woman. The door of the pulpit is adorned with a relief of Christ's head, while, its pediment is crowned by a statue of Hope with putti on either side. Below the memorial are the arms of the Funck family who bore the greater cost of the pulpit. Beneath the pulpit and surrounded by an iron railing lies the worn gravestone of Olaus Petri.References:
The Beckov castle stands on a steep 50 m tall rock in the village Beckov. The dominance of the rock and impression of invincibility it gaves, challenged our ancestors to make use of these assets. The result is a remarkable harmony between the natural setting and architecture.
The castle first mentioned in 1200 was originally owned by the King and later, at the end of the 13th century it fell in hands of Matúš Èák. Its owners alternated - at the end of the 14th century the family of Stibor of Stiborice bought it.
The next owners, the Bánffys who adapted the Gothic castle to the Renaissance residence, improved its fortifications preventing the Turks from conquering it at the end of the 16th century. When Bánffys died out, the castle was owned by several noble families. It fell in decay after fire in 1729.
The history of the castle is the subject of different legends. One of them narrates the origin of the name of castle derived from that of jester Becko for whom the Duke Stibor had the castle built.
Another legend has it that the lord of the castle had his servant thrown down from the rock because he protected his child from the lords favourite dog. Before his death, the servant pronounced a curse saying that they would meet in a year and days time, and indeed precisely after that time the lord was bitten by a snake and fell down to the same abyss.
The well-conserved ruins of the castle, now the National Cultural Monument, are frequently visited by tourists, above all in July when the castle festival takes place. The former Ambro curia situated below the castle now shelters the exhibition of the local history.