Uppsala Cathedral is the largest and tallest cathedral and one of the most impressive religious buildings in Scandinavia. Originally built in the 13th century under Roman Catholicism and used for coronations of the Swedish monarch, since the Protestant Reformation, it has been controlled by the Lutheran Church of Sweden. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Uppsala, the primate of Sweden.
The construction of the cathedral started ca. 1287, when the archbishopric was moved from Old Uppsala. It took more than a century to complete. When inaugurated in 1435 under archbishop Olaus Laurentii, the cathedral was not completely finished. It was dedicated to Saint Lawrence, Saint Eric and Saint Olaf. It was completed within the following decades.
The cathedral was severely damaged in 1702 in a disastrous fire and restored near the turn of the 20th century. The twin spires were added between 1885-1893 by architect Helgo Zettervall. He replaced the small Baroque towers with tall (French-inspired) spires, including a third, smaller tower on the transept crossing in the same style. Zettervall also so significantly altered large portions of the medieval outer brick walls as to give it a slimmer appearance.
The interior ceiling and walls of the cathedral were decorated in neo-Gothic style. Some depictions, such as one of the Reformation's Martin Luther, added figures beyond the cathedral's medieval heritage. Large portions of cement additions by Zettervall to the exterior structure of the cathedral were removed decades later as they adversely affected the building's fabric. A sign denouncing antisemitism marks the position of the "Jewpig", a relief depicting Jews drinking from a sow.
The Cathedral has been the coronation church for many of Sweden's kings and queens. It was the site of celebrating coronations from the Middle Ages until the end of the 17th century. Thereafter, up until 1872 (when Oscar II was the last Swedish monarch to be ceremonially crowned), Stockholm's Cathedral Storkyrkan was the official coronation church.
A number of Swedish kings and notable people were buried inside the cathedral like Eric the Saint (he was actually killed in the cathedral in 1160), Gustav Vasa (d. 1560) and John III (d. 1592) with his wife Catherine Jagiellon. Other notable are Carolus Linnaeus, 18th century world-renowned botanist and Laurentius Petri, Sweden's first Lutheran archbishop. In the cathedral is also a small memorial to Dag Hammarskjöld, former Secretary-General of the United Nations.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.