Turku Cathedral is the Mother Church of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, and the country's national shrine. It is the central church of the Archdiocese of Turku and the seat of the Archbishop of Finland. It is also regarded as one of the major records of Finnish architectural history.
The cathedral was originally built out of wood in the late 13th century, and was dedicated as the main cathedral of Finland in 1300, the seat of the bishop of Turku. It was considerably expanded in the 14th and 15th centuries, mainly using stone as the construction material.
During the 15th century, side-chapels were added along the north and south sides of the nave, containing altars dedicated to various saints. By the end of the Middle Ages these numbered 42 in total. The roof-vaults were also raised during the latter part of the 15th century to their present height of 24 meters. Thus, by the beginning of the Modern era, the church had approximately taken on its present shape. The major later addition to the cathedral is the tower, which has been rebuilt several times, as a result of repeated fires. The worst damage was caused by the Great Fire of Turku in 1827, when most of the town was destroyed, along with the interior of both the tower and the nave and the old tower roof. The present spire of the tower, constructed after the great fire, reaches a height of 101 meters above sea level, and is visible over a considerable distance as the symbol of both the cathedral and the city of Turku itself.
In the reformation the cathedral was taken by the Lutheran Church of Finland (Sweden). Most of the present interior also dates from the restoration carried out in the 1830s, following the Great Fire. The altarpiece, depicting the Transfiguration of Jesus, was painted in 1836 by the Swedish artist Fredrik Westin. The reredos behind the High Altar, and the pulpit in the crossing, also both date from the 1830s, and were designed by german architect Carl Ludvig Engel, known in Finland for his several other highly regarded works. The walls and roof in the chancel are decorated with frescos in the Romantic style by the court painter Robert Wilhelm Ekman, which depict events from the life of Jesus, and the two key events in the history of the Finnish Church: the baptism of the first Finnish Christians by Bishop Henry by the spring at Kupittaa, and the presentation to King Gustav Vasa by the Reformer Michael Agricola of the first Finnish translation of the New Testament.
The cathedral was badly damaged during the Great Fire of Turku in 1827, and was rebuilt to a great extent afterwards.References:
The Beckov castle stands on a steep 50 m tall rock in the village Beckov. The dominance of the rock and impression of invincibility it gaves, challenged our ancestors to make use of these assets. The result is a remarkable harmony between the natural setting and architecture.
The castle first mentioned in 1200 was originally owned by the King and later, at the end of the 13th century it fell in hands of Matúš Èák. Its owners alternated - at the end of the 14th century the family of Stibor of Stiborice bought it.
The next owners, the Bánffys who adapted the Gothic castle to the Renaissance residence, improved its fortifications preventing the Turks from conquering it at the end of the 16th century. When Bánffys died out, the castle was owned by several noble families. It fell in decay after fire in 1729.
The history of the castle is the subject of different legends. One of them narrates the origin of the name of castle derived from that of jester Becko for whom the Duke Stibor had the castle built.
Another legend has it that the lord of the castle had his servant thrown down from the rock because he protected his child from the lords favourite dog. Before his death, the servant pronounced a curse saying that they would meet in a year and days time, and indeed precisely after that time the lord was bitten by a snake and fell down to the same abyss.
The well-conserved ruins of the castle, now the National Cultural Monument, are frequently visited by tourists, above all in July when the castle festival takes place. The former Ambro curia situated below the castle now shelters the exhibition of the local history.