The German Church, or the Church of Saint Gertrude, was founded in 1571. it started as a Guild Lounge for german merchantmen in Stockholm who where a large part of the population in the 16th century. Hans Jakob Kristler enlarged the chapel in 1638-1642 to the present two-nave church. During the 17th century, while the choir of the school participated at the royal concerts, the church became an important centre for church music in Sweden. A crypt, construction on which was started in 1716 but was interrupted 1860-1992, is still in use by the parish. By 1800, the German congregation had dwindled to a mere 113 people, and in 1878 a fire destroyed the tower.
The interior is Baroque in style, the large windows of which make it overflowed by light, highlighting the white vaults and their many angels heads. The wine cellars of the original guild building are still found under the current marble floor. In the atrium is a window featuring St. Gertrude herself holding a chalice in one hand and a model of the church in the other. The ten metres tall altar was created by Markus Hebel, a Baroque master from Neumünster, Schleswig-Holstein.
The "king's gallery" crowned by the monogram of King Charles XI was designed by Nicodemus Tessin the Elder. The green and golden structure, at the time resting on pillars seemingly suspended over the floor, was reached by a magnificently carved flight of stairs used by generations of royal families, often of German descent, attending the sermons. The ceiling displays a painting by David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl, born in Hamburg and a member of the German parish. The lower part of the gallery was later glazed and today contains the sacristy. The painted windows are all from the turn of the century 1900. The southern windows, arguably, retell the benefits of living a devoted life. By the entrance is a commemorative plate reminding of the restaurateur Peter Hinrich Fuhrman (-1773), one of the church's most important donors.
Today the German parish sorts under the Church of Sweden but as a so called non-territorial parish, the approximately 2,000 members of which are found all around Stockholm. Sermons in German are still held every Sunday at 11 am, and the church is open daily during summers and at weekends during winter.References:
The moated castle at Beersel is one of the few exceptionally well-preserved examples of medieval fortifications in Belgium. It remains pretty much as it must have appeared in the 15th century. Remarkably, it was never converted into a fortified mansion. A visitor is able to experience at first-hand how it must have felt to live in a heavily fortified castle in the Middle Ages.
The castle was built in around 1420 as a means of defence on the outer reaches of Brussels. The tall, dense walls and towers were intended to hold any besiegers at bay. The moat and the marshy ground along its eastern, southern and western edges made any attack a formidable proposition. For that reason, any attackers would have chosen its weaker northern defences where the castle adjoins higher lying ground. But the castle was only taken and destroyed on one occasion in 1489, by the inhabitants of Brussels who were in rebellion against Maximilian of Austria.
After being stormed and plundered by the rebels it was partially rebuilt. The pointed roofs and stepped gables are features which have survived this period. The reconstruction explains why two periods can be identified in the fabric of the edifice, particularly on the outside.
The red Brabant sandstone surrounds of the embrasures, now more or less all bricked up, are characteristic of the 15th century. The other embrasures, edged with white sandstone, date from the end of the 15th century. They were intended for setting up the artillery fire. The merlons too are in white sandstone. The year 1617 can be clearly seen in the foundation support on the first tower. This refers to restorations carried out at the time by the Arenberg family.
Nowadays, the castle is dominated by three massive towers. The means of defence follow the classic pattern: a wide, deep moat surrounding the castle, a drawbridge, merlons on the towers, embrasures in the walls and in the towers, at more or less regular intervals, and machiolations. Circular, projecting towers ensured that attacks from the side could be thwarted. If the enemy were to penetrate the outer wall, each tower could be defended from embrasures facing onto the inner courtyard.
The second and third towers are flanked by watchtowers from which shots could be fired directly below. Between the second and third tower are two openings in the walkway on the wall. It is not clear what these were used for. Were these holes used for the disposing of rubbish, or escape routes. The windows on the exterior are narrow and low. All light entering comes from the interior. The few larger windows on the exterior date from a later period. It is most probable that the third tower - the highest - was used as a watchtower.