Mariawald Abbey is a monastery of the Trappists (formally known as the Cistercians of the Strict Observance), located above the village of Heimbach. Following Heinrich Fluitter's vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a shrine and chapel were built on the site of it, which became a place of pilgrimage, the Marienwallfahrt. For the proper care of the site and the pilgrims land was given in 1480 to the Cistercians of Bottenbroich Abbey, who established a priory here, which they were able to move into on 4 April 1486. The new monastery took its name from the shrine to Mary and from the woods in which it was situated: 'Marienwald', or 'Mary's wood'.
In 1795 the monastery was closed as a result of the French Revolution and the monks were expelled. The image of the Virgin was removed to safety in Heimbach. The priory buildings were abandoned and allowed to fall into decay. In 1860 the priory was re-settled by Trappist monks from Oelenberg Abbey in Alsace.
The monks had to leave the monastery yet again under the Nazi regime during World War II, from 1941 until April 1945, when the surviving members of the community were able to return. The monastery had to be largely rebuilt, because it had been seriously damaged in the war. After World War II, a brewery was run at the abbey until 1956 when beer production ceased, in part due to availability of water and brewing ingredients.
The monks follow the Rule of St. Benedict and the constitution of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance. Visitors can also stay a few days in the abbey's guesthouse, but the parts of the monastery used by the monastic community cannot be visited. The abbey runs a tavern and bookshop. It also produces and sells its own liqueur.References:
The St Sophia's Cathedral was built between 1045-1050 inside the Novgorod Kremlin (fortress). It is one of the earliest stone structures of northern Russia. Its height is 38 m. Originally it was taller, for during the past nine centuries the lower part of the building became concealed by the two-metre thick cultural layer. The cathedral was built by Prince Vladimir, the son of Yaroslav the Wise, and until the 1130s this principal church of the city also served as the sepulchre of Novgorodian princes. For the Novgorodians, St Sophia became synonymous with their town, the symbol of civic power and independence.
The five-domed church looks simpler but no less impressive than its prototype, the thirteen-domed St Sophia of Kiev. The cathedral exterior is striking in its majesty and epic splendour evoking the memories of Novgorod's glorious past and invincible might. In the 11th century it looked more imposing than now. Its facade represented a gigantic mosaic of huge, coarsely trimmed irregular slabs of flagstone and shell rock. In some places (particularly on the apses), the wall was covered with mortar, smoothly polished, drawn up to imitate courses of brick or of whitestone slabs, and slightly coloured. As a result, the facade was not white, as it is today, but multicoloured. The play of stone, decorative painting and the building materials of various texture enhanced the impression of austere simplicity and introduced a picturesque effect.
The two-storied galleries extend along the building's southern, western and northern sides, with a stair-tower constructed at the north-eastern corner. The cathedral has three entrances - the southern, western and northern, of which the western was the main one intended for ceremonial processions. A gate standing at the entrance is known as the Sigtuna Gate (mid-12th century); according to legend, it was brought from the Swedish town of Sigtuna in 1187. The second name of the gate derives from the town of Magdeburg, where it was made. The two leaves are decorated with biblical and evangelical scenes in cast bronze relief. In the lower left corner there are portraits of the craftsmen who created this superb specimen of medieval Western European bronze-work. An inscription in Latin gives their names, Riquin and Weissmut. The small central figure - judging from an inscription in Slavonic - is a representation of the Russian master craftsman Avraam, who assembled the gate.
There is yet another bronze gate in the cathedral, called the Korsun Gate. Made in the 11th century in Chersonesos, Byzantium, it leads from the southern gallery into the Nativity Side-Chapel. Legend has it that the gate was handed over to Novgorod as a gift of Prince Yaroslav the Wise (c. 978 - 1054).
The interior of the cathedral is as majestic as its exterior. It is divided by huge piers into five aisles, three of which end in altar apses. In the south-western corner, inside the tower, there is a wide spiral in relatively small, modest buildings of the 12th - 16th centuries.