The Matris Domini Monastery was an enclosed female monastery. It houses a museum featuring several medieval frescoes with religious themes. The monastery was founded during the second half of the 13th century by the Dominican Order to house a community of nuns. There is no certain date for the foundation, probably during the rule of Bishop Algiso da Rosate or that of Erbordo Ungano. Its church was consecrated on 25 March 1273 by Bishop Guiscardo Suardi.
From its beginning the monastery experienced the continuous development and growth of its community. It was rebuilt in 1359 and was enlarged in the 16th- and 17th-centuries, but it was suppressed during the occupation of Italy by French forces during the Napoleonic Wars.
In modern times, it was converted into a Gestapo prison during the German occupation of Italy during World War II. The monastery was eventually returned to its own original function and to the nuns.
The monastery displays in Romanesque frescoes. Dating from the 13th and the 14th century, they are among the earliest examples of the fresco painting art in Lombardy, some of them are among the most ancient altogether.
Together with the Visitation, other frescoes are displayed, some of them well preserved. Scenes include the Just, the Blessed, two Angels with a trumpet, Saint Peter on the throne, the Hell, all attributed to the Master of the Life Tree.
The museum also houses five polychrome glass circles are displayed, originating from the 14th century stained glass window which decorated the apse of the old church. They are the oldest vitreous work in Lombardy.
The largest displays the Virgin and Blessing Child and shares with the two circles depicting the angels the peculiarity of the face and the hands devoid of color. The other two circles show, respectively, Saint Dominic Blessing and Peter of Verona, the first Dominican saint.
Next to the museum, also part of the convent complex, is the church, consecrated in 1273 and composed, following the female monasteries tradition, by an internal chapel constituted by a nave and two aisles, and by the external church.
The latter was radically transformed in the 17th century into a luminous Baroque environment, decorated by stuccoes and frescoes, including some by Pietro Baschenis, as well as several altarpieces situated in the side chapels.
Above the main altar is the 17th-century altarpiece of the Annunciation, executed by an unknown master; at its sides there are the altarpiece of the Adoration of the Shepherds (also by an unknown artist) and the Massacre of the Innocents by Pietro Ricchi.References:
Glimmingehus is the best preserved medieval stronghold in Scandinavia. It was built 1499-1506, during an era when Scania formed a vital part of Denmark, and contains many defensive arrangements of the era, such as parapets, false doors and dead-end corridors, 'murder-holes' for pouring boiling pitch over the attackers, moats, drawbridges and various other forms of death traps to surprise trespassers and protect the nobles against peasant uprisings. The lower part of the castle's stone walls are 2.4 meters (94 inches) thick and the upper part 1.8 meters (71 inches).
Construction was started in 1499 by the Danish knight Jens Holgersen Ulfstand and stone-cutter-mason and architect Adam van Düren, a North German master who also worked on Lund Cathedral. Construction was completed in 1506.
Ulfstand was a councillor, nobleman and admiral serving under John I of Denmark and many objects have been uncovered during archeological excavations that demonstrate the extravagant lifestyle of the knight's family at Glimmingehus up until Ulfstand's death in 1523. Some of the most expensive objects for sale in Europe during this period, such as Venetian glass, painted glass from the Rhine district and Spanish ceramics have been found here. Evidence of the family's wealth can also be seen inside the stone fortress, where everyday comforts for the knight's family included hot air channels in the walls and bench seats in the window recesses. Although considered comfortable for its period, it has also been argued that Glimmingehus was an expression of "Knighthood nostalgia" and not considered opulent or progressive enough even to the knight's contemporaries and especially not to later generations of the Scanian nobility. Glimmingehus is thought to have served as a residential castle for only a few generations before being transformed into a storage facility for grain.
An order from Charles XI to the administrators of the Swedish dominion of Scania in 1676 to demolish the castle, in order to ensure that it would not fall into the hands of the Danish king during the Scanian War, could not be executed. A first attempt, in which 20 Scanian farmers were ordered to assist, proved unsuccessful. An additional force of 130 men were sent to Glimmingehus to execute the order in a second attempt. However, before they could carry out the order, a Danish-Dutch naval division arrived in Ystad, and the Swedes had to abandon the demolition attempts. Throughout the 18th century the castle was used as deposit for agricultural produce and in 1924 it was donated to the Swedish state. Today it is administered by the Swedish National Heritage Board.
On site there is a museum, medieval kitchen, shop and restaurant and coffee house. During summer time there are several guided tours daily. In local folklore, the castle is described as haunted by multiple ghosts and the tradition of storytelling inspired by the castle is continued in the summer events at the castle called "Strange stories and terrifying tales".