The Church of Santa Maria Maggiore is an important place of worship in the city of Trento, and the site of the Third Session of the Council of Trent.
Traditionally, the foundation of the church was attributed to St. Vigilius, the third Bishop of Trento, in the late fourth of early fifth century. In the Roman period, there were public buildings, including a public baths, on the site where the church was later built. The original church itself was built somewhat later than previously thought, in the late fifth or early sixth century, and had a large space divided into three naves. The chancel of this church, which was still in use towards the end of the tenth and eleventh centuries, contains traces of an opus sectile pavement dating to late antiquity, which was later replaced with a mosaic from the middle of the 6th century.
Between the late 8th and early 9th centuries a number of building works were undertaken on the cathedral, in particular the addition of richly-decorated stone liturgical fittings, including a rood screen and a ciborium. In the late 10th or early 11th centuries the old church was demolished, and its structure, including the Carolingian fittings, were used as building materials for a new church, smaller than the previous one. It had a semicircular central apse with two side-apses.
Evidence from a find of coins indicates that after 1290 a third church was built on the site of the previous one. This one had two naves ending in symmetrical apses. This building preserved, among other elements of earlier edifices, fragments of frescoes and parts of a gothic fascicule semi-pillar at one of its entrances. In 1520, work started on the current church, at the direction of Bernardo Clesio. Between 1899 and 1901 further works and restoration modified the renaissance façade.
Santa Maria Maggiore was the site of the Third Session of the Council of Trent (1545–1563).
The main façade consists of an arched entrance in renaissance style with a door commissioned by Prince-Archbishop Cristoforo Madruzzo in 1539. Above the door is a lunette depicting the Annunciation. The bell tower, 53 metres high, is the tallest in the city. Constructed of white limestone, it has two rows of three-mullioned romanesque windows and a polygonal cupola.
The interior of the church consists of a single nave. Along the sides are a series of chapels with marble altars in the baroque style. There are also a series of altarpieces and the baroque sarcophagus containing relics attributed to Saint Clement. Of historical significance also is the series of paintings which depict sense from the Council of Trent and some of the main figures of the Counter-reformation. The choir is at the north end of the presbytery and consists of a large gallery with bas-reliefs, held up by four finely-worked corbels.References:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.