Gothic clock on the ceiling of Sint Laurenskerk in Alkmaar

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

Gothic clock on the ceiling of Sint Laurenskerk (St. Lawrence church) in Alkmaar, Netherlands.

Alkmaar is a municipality and a city in the Netherlands, in the province of North Holland. Alkmaar is well known for its traditional cheese market.

Grote or Sint-Laurenskerk (English: Great, or St. Lawrence church) is a landmark Protestant church in Alkmaar, Netherlands. The building is located on the Koorstraat, named for its choir. The two organs are world-famous.

The Grote Kerk (1470-1498), dedicated to St Lawrence, is a handsome building and contains the tomb of Floris V, Count of Holland (d. 1296), a brass of 1546, and some paintings (1507). Anna Visscher is buried in this church. The church was built by Anthonius Keldermans (c. 1440-1512), from a church building family from Mechelen.

The earliest mention of the name Alkmaar is in a 10th-century document. As the village grew into a town, it was granted city rights in 1254. The oldest part of Alkmaar lies on an ancient sand bank that afforded some protection from inundation during medieval times. Even so, it is only a couple of metres above the surrounding region, which consists of some of the oldest polders in existence.

In 1573 the city underwent a siege by Spanish forces under the leadership of Don Fadrique, son of the Duke of Alva. The citizens sent urgent messages for help to the Prince of Orange; he responded by promising to open the floodgates of the dykes and flood the region if the need arose, which despite the protestations of the peasantry, fearful for their harvest, he proceeded to do. Some of his dispatches fell into the hands of Don Fadrique, and, with the waters beginning to rise, the Spaniards raised the siege and fled. It was a turning point in the Eighty Years War and gave rise to the expression Bij Alkmaar begint de victorie (“Victory begins at Alkmaar”). The event is still celebrated every year in Alkmaar on 8 October, the day the siege ended.

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Rioseco abandoned Abbey

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

Rioseco Abbey (Spanish: Monasterio cisterciense de Santa María de Rioseco) is a former Cistercian abbey situated in Rioseco in the Valle de Manzanedo, in the present province of Burgos, near the River Ebro.

In 1148 the Cistercian Valbuena Abbey, of the filiation of Morimond, founded a daughter house in a small former hermitage in Quintanajuar, in the Páramo de Masa. In 1171 this new community received as a gift from the heirs of the nobleman Martino Martini de Uizozes the ancient monastery of Rioseco, the previous history of which is unrecorded. After a temporary relocation in the late 12th century to San Cipriano de Montes de Oca (La Rioja), the Cistercians moved to the Valle de Manzanedo at the beginning of the 13th century, and probably in 1204, to occupy the old monastery of Rioseco.

The site of the old monastery can still be seen by the ruins of the old conventual church. It seems that after a serious flood the new community had definitely established itself by 1236 at the latest on a new site a little to the north, on higher ground. After the move the former conventual church was put to use as the parish church of Nuestra Señora de Parrales.

By the 14th century Rioseco had become one of the most powerful economies among the Castilian Cistercians. From the middle of the 15th century however, in common in fact with most other monasteries, it experienced years of penury and crisis, before once again entering upon a period of further growth and prosperity in the 17th century.

During the Peninsular War, from 1808 to 1809 the French troops stationed in Medina de Pomar appropriated a large part of the monastery’s stores and from 1809 until 29 June 1814 the monks were dispossessed. Nor after their return did they stay very long, for on 29 October 1820, during the Trienio Liberal, the commissars of the revolutionary government took possession of the monastery. At a public auction held in Villarcayo, most of the community’s goods were sold. The monastery itself however found no buyer, and thereafter stood abandoned. The local populace continued to make some use of the premises as store-houses, parish church and cemetery.

In the 1850s the surviving buildings, especially the extremely well preserved church, still magnificently equipped and furnished, were deliberately and systematically stripped by the Arquiaga family of everything of any value that survived, and reduced to ruins.

The monastery is in the Herreriano style. An impressive spiral staircase is still preserved, the stone walls of the church still stand, and the bóvedas retain some traces of polychromy. The cartulary is now in the Archivo Histórico Nacional (codex 91B).

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Vallejo de Mena Romanesque Church of San Lorenzo

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

Vallejo de Mena is in The Mena Valley (Spanish: Valle de Mena), a municipality of the province of Burgos, in the autonomous community of Castilla y León, Spain, that borders the provinces of Alava and Vizcaya (Basque Country) and Cantabria.

The municipality has 3,926 inhabitants distributed among 43 small villages, being its capital Villasana de Mena with 1.554 inhabitants.

The name Vallejo is a diminutive of Valley, therefore, Vallejo de Mena was called to a hollow that lies at the heart of the Valle de Mena. Nowadays this small village belongs to the municipality of Villasana de Mena, located a few kilometres away.

Apparently, the Church of San Lorenzo de Vallejo de Mena was performed in two distinct construction stages. The first phase was completed by teachers more fine and artistic, while the second stage was attended by local artists who were commissioned to complete the work. The initial project had a tower at the top of the third segment of the ship which was never finished.

The Church has a total of three covers of access, being the more interesting which opens on the facade of the Gables. Inside is a single nave divided into three sections by transverse arches, follows her a straight section that precedes the apse, all of them covered with vaults with the exception of the apse.

The Church of San Lorenzo de Vallejo vein represents one of the highest peaks of the Romanesque from Burgos. The cover opens on the facade of the Gables and keeps a resemblance to the cover of the Church for Bercedo. The porch goes a long way with respect to the line of the façade by what comes to form a separate body. He has not retained the original roof or the gargoyles should look in their day. On each side four supported columns appear with attic bases, the capitals of these columns are perfectly carved and decorated with motifs vegetables except on the left side in which are four Harpies. Porch adds a total of five archivolts, four are supported by columns and the archivolt interior is based on the door jambs.

The two foreign archivolts of the cover represent human figures of stature, strong and sturdy, very Castilian for its quality and for the topics the master sculptor represents. The three inner archivolts are decoration articles, vine leaves, balls, etc.

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Santa Maria de Retortillo Romanesque Church

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

Romanesque church of Santa Maria de Retortillo, in the municipality of Campoo de Enmedio, autonomous community of Cantabria, Spain.

This beautiful temple Romanesque is dated in the last years of the 12th century, stands on a necropolis early medieval and the ancient city of Juliobriga, the most important Roman centre of Cantabria. Retortillo is nowadays a small village of about 60 inhabitants in the municipality of Campoo de Enmedio in the High Ebro.

Apparently the name of Retortillo comes from “Rivo Tortillo” as they discussed the documents relating to the CARTULARY of Santillana in which news first appear in this village.

Photography offers a view of the Church from its southwest corner. From here we look at the belfry and the south wall. At the bottom of the image is the tombs of lajas belonging to a medieval necropolis.

The temple has a single nave covered by a barrel vault that is divided into three sections by transverse arches. The ship is topped in an elegant semicircular apse . It preserves practically its original appearance but lost a tower cylindrical, possibly similar to the Church of San Martin of a portico that was in the southern wall and Elines and that it protected the home. This gallery was unfortunately deleted in a restoration of the year 1989. The cover presents an interesting ear drum with two angels, a tap and a lion.

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De Huisman mill

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

De Huisman is a small octagonal mill at the Zaanse Schans in the Zaanstad, a neighbourhood of Zaandam, near Zaandijk in the Netherlands. Currently it makes mustard.

‘De Huisman’ has been located on the Zaanse Schanse since 1955, next to the warehouse ‘De Haan’. The mill was probably built in 1786 on the Blue Path (now Rue Claude Monet) in Zaandam. The mill has functioned as a snuff mill (milling tobacco), a mustard mill, and a saw mill.

At the Zaanse Schans, the mill was converted again into a mustard mill, though it mills the mustard seeds in a modern, not wind-operated way. There are advanced plans for the mill to be restored to a traditional mustard mill, and to give the public the opportunity to visit the mill.

Zaanse Schans has a collection of well-preserved historic windmills and houses. From 1961 to 1974 old buildings from all over the Zaanstreek were relocated using lowboy trailers to the area. The Zaans Museum, established in 1994, is located in the Zaanse Schans.

The Zaanse Schans derived its name of the river Zaan and its original function as sconce (schans in Dutch) against the Spanish troops during the Eighty Years’ War of Dutch independence.

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A backstreet with cats and bicycle in Marken. BW.

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

A backstreet with cats and bicycle in Marken. BW.

Marken is a village with a population in the municipality of Waterland in the province of North Holland in the Netherlands. Marken forms a peninsula in the Markermeer and was formerly an island in the Zuiderzee. Marken has characteristic wooden houses.

Marken was an island in the Zuiderzee.

For some time during the later 19th and early 20th centuries, Marken and its inhabitants were the focus of considerable attention by folklorists, ethnographers and physical anthropologists, who regarded the small fishing town as a relic of the traditional native culture that was destined to disappear as the modernization of the Netherlands gained pace. Among them was Johann Friedrich Blumenbach who examined a skull from the island of humans which he called Batavus genuinus; and was the Belgian painter Xavier Mellery who stayed in Marken at the request of Decoster. Mellery was asked to perform illustrative work and delivered several intimist works.

The projects of Cornelis Lely was to incorporated the island into the markerwaard. The dike, built in 1941 in the north, is the first phase of that project which was stopped by the war.

In 1983, the Marker Museum about the history of the island was opened.

Marken was a separate municipality until 1991, when it was merged into Waterland.

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Vasa ship, Stockholm

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

Vasa (or Wasa) is a Swedish warship built between 1626 and 1628. The ship foundered and sank after sailing about 1,300 m (1,400 yd) into her maiden voyageon 10 August 1628. She fell into obscurity after most of her valuable bronze cannons were salvaged in the 17th century until she was located again in the late 1950s in a busy shipping lane just outside the Stockholm harbor. Salvaged with a largely intact hull in 1961, she was housed in a temporary museum calledWasavarvet (“The Wasa Shipyard”) until 1988 and then moved to the Vasa Museum in Stockholm. The ship is one of Sweden’s most popular tourist attractions and has been seen by over 29 million visitors since 1961. Since her recovery, Vasa has become a widely recognized symbol of the Swedish “great power period” and is today a de facto standard in the media and among Swedes for evaluating the historical importance of shipwrecks.

The ship was built on the orders of the King of Sweden Gustavus Adolphus as part of the military expansion he initiated in a war with Poland-Lithuania (1621–1629). She was constructed at the navy yard in Stockholm under a contract with private entrepreneurs in 1626–1627 and armed primarily with bronze cannons cast in Stockholm specifically for the ship. Richly decorated as a symbol of the king’s ambitions for Sweden and himself, upon completion she was one of the most powerfully armed vessels in the world. However, Vasa was dangerously unstable and top-heavy with too much weight in the upper structure of the hull. Despite this lack of stability she was ordered to sea and foundered only a few minutes after encountering a wind stronger than a breeze.

The order to sail was the result of a combination of factors. The king, who was leading the army in Poland at the time of her maiden voyage, was impatient to see her take up her station as flagship of the reserve squadron at Älvsnabben in the Stockholm Archipelago. At the same time the king’s subordinates lacked the political courage to openly discuss the ship’s structural problems or to have the maiden voyage postponed. An inquiry was organized by the Swedish Privy Councilto find those responsible for the disaster, but in the end no one was punished for the fiasco.

During the 1961 recovery, thousands of artifacts and the remains of at least 15 people were found in and around the Vasa’s hull by marine archaeologists. Among the many items found were clothing, weapons, cannons, tools, coins, cutlery, food, drink and six of the ten sails. The artifacts and the ship herself have provided scholars with invaluable insights into details of naval warfare, shipbuilding techniques and everyday life in early 17th-century Sweden.

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