St. Michael’s, one of the main churches in Lüneburg, is a good example of the red-brick hall churches of Northern Germany. In AD 956 the Holy-Roman emperor, Otto I, presented the Benedictine Abbey with the income from customs deriving from the extraction of the salt, which later made Lüneburg both famous and extremely wealthy.
St. Michael’s was at that time part of the castle of the Billunger ducal family, which was located on a hill in Lüneburg. This was the family Abbey and members of the Billungers were buried there. However, in 1371 the conflicts between the magnates and the city of Lüneburg over the income from the trade with salt turned into an open rebellion and the people from the city attacked the castle and tore it down. The Abbey was later relocated and rebuilt inside the town itself. This was part of the magnates effort to regain the power in the city. In connection with this the remains of the ducal families of the Billungs and the Welfs – who had taken over – were transferred to the new church.
The building of the church was commenced in 1376 and finished in 1412. It measures 53 m long, 26 m wide and 20 m high. The tower raises 79 m high into the air. The church was built in red-brick and stands as one of the more prominent examples of this traditional form of construction in the area. It is a prime example of the so-called “Halle Kirchen” in Northern Germany and a prominent stop on the European Route of Brick Gothic.
As befitted an important church in one of the wealthy towns in the Hanseatic League, it was fitted with a number of exquisite pieces of art. One of these was the famous Golden Panel (Goldene Tafel), which served both as a retable and reliquary on the main altar.
The Golden Panel was originally a Romanesque golden antepedium, which later became enclosed in a retable consisting of two sets of double wings, painted by the “Master of the Golden Panel in Lüneburg”(c. 1431-1435). The central Romanesque antepedium was destroyed in 1698 by robbers, who melted it down, but the wings still exist and are housed in the Landesmuseum in Hannover. The closed wings showed the Crucifixion on one side and the Brazen Serpent on the other. The insides of the outer wings and the insides of the inner wings depicted 36 scenes from the Life of the Virgin and the Passion of Christ. On the inside of the inner wings were carved and guided figures of saints and prophets. Around the inserted Romanesque antepedium golden reliquaries were placed in niches; hence the name.References:
Heraclea Lyncestis was an ancient Greek city in Macedon, ruled later by the Romans. It was founded by Philip II of Macedon in the middle of the 4th century BC. The city was named in honor of the mythological hero Heracles. The name Lynkestis originates from the name of the ancient kingdom, conquered by Philip, where the city was built.
Heraclea was a strategically important town during the Hellenistic period, as it was at the edge of Macedon"s border with Epirus to the west and Paeonia to the north, until the middle of the 2nd century BC, when the Romans conquered Macedon and destroyed its political power. The main Roman road in the area, Via Egnatia went through Heraclea, and Heraclea was an important stop. The prosperity of the city was maintained mainly due to this road.
The Roman emperor Hadrian built a theatre in the center of the town, on a hill, when many buildings in the Roman province of Macedonia were being restored. It began being used during the reign of Antoninus Pius. Inside the theatre there were three animal cages and in the western part a tunnel. The theatre went out of use during the late 4th century AD, when gladiator fights in the Roman Empire were banned, due to the spread of Christianity, the formulation of the Eastern Roman Empire, and the abandonment of, what was then perceived as, pagan rituals and entertainment.
In the early Byzantine period (4th to 6th centuries AD) Heraclea was an important episcopal centre. A small and a great basilica, the bishop"s residence, and a funerary basilica and the necropolis are some of the remains of this period. Three naves in the Great Basilica are covered with mosaics of very rich floral and figurative iconography; these well preserved mosaics are often regarded as fine examples of the early Christian art period.
The city was sacked by Ostrogoth/Visigoth forces, commanded by Theodoric the Great in 472 AD and again in 479 AD. It was restored in the late 5th and early 6th century. When an earthquake struck in 518 AD, the inhabitants of Heraclea gradually abandoned the city. Subsequently, at the eve of the 7th century, the Dragovites, a Slavic tribe pushed down from the north by the Avars, settled in the area. The last coin issue dates from ca. 585, which suggests that the city was finally captured by the Slavs. As result, in place of the deserted city theatre several huts were built.
The Episcopacy Residence was excavated between 1970 and 1975. The western part was discovered first and the southern side is near the town wall. The luxury rooms are located in the eastern part. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th rooms all have mosaic floors. Between the 3rd and 4th rooms there is a hole that led to the eastern entrance of the residence. The hole was purposefully created between the 4th and 6th century.