The history of Maria Magdalena Church dates back to the 1350s when King Magnus Eriksson with the permission of Pope Clement VI had a funeral chapel built on the location and dedicated it to Mary Magdalene. When Gustav Vasa liberated Stockholm in the early 1520s, his troops led by Peder Fredag encamped in the chapel and suffered severe losses when the troops of Christian II of Denmark attacked from the city. This might have been one of the reasons Vasa had all churches, monasteries, and chapels on the ridges surrounding the city destroyed after the introduction of Protestantism in 1527, including the chapel of Mary Magdalene. However, his son King John III started the construction of a new church on the location in 1588. His death in 1592 caused construction work to halt, and the church remained uncompleted until 1634.
Both Nicodemus Tessin the Elder and the Younger gave the church its Baroque appearance. The spire of the former, however, inaugurated in 1676 and according to himself the most beautiful spire in Stockholm, was destroyed in a fire in 1759 together with some 300 buildings in the neighbourhood. Superintendent Carl Johan Cronstedt was commissioned to rebuild the church and had his task completed in 1763. An interior restoration was made in 1927 and the exterior yellow colour was ameliorated in 1986.
The church has a nave but no aisles. The painting of the high altar is the Adoration of the Shepherds by Louis Masreliez from around 1800. The pulpit, the Baroque design of Carl Johan Cronstedt, was inaugurated in 1763 and carries a medallion with the portrait of Mary Magdalene. The front of the organ was designed by Carl Fredrik Adelcrantz in 1774 while the present 50-stop organ is from 1927. A second organ was added in 1986 and in the choir is a third smaller organ.
The baptismal font dates back to 1638 and among the sacramental vessels which survived the fire in 1759, is the oldest effects of the church - a sacramental pan in copper with capital inscriptions. Among the epitaphs in the church are one dedicate to Christopher Polhem and another to Carl Michael Bellman. Under the church are older sepulchral chambers, the burial chapel of which today serves parishes of the Estonian-Finnish Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church.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.