Medieval castles in Calabria

Stilo Castle

The Castle of Stilo was built by Norman king Roger I of Sicily upon Monte Consolino in the 11th century. In the 13th century, it was one of the seventeen castles in Calabria managed by Reale Curia during the reign of Charles I of Naples and it was also used as a prison. In that period, it was subjected to maintenance as written in folio 233 of 1281 of Regia Zecca Archive. The castle is reachable by two main paths: from t ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Stilo, Italy

Arena Castle

The castle of Arena was built by the Norman king Roger I the 11th century, to protect the pass of Berra and to defend the dominions on the Tyrrhenian side of the greenhouses against the risk of potential attacks from the eastern side, where Byzantines and Arabs had important positions. The administrative and military control of the feud of Arena was entrusted to the Conclubet family, which for over 600 years was confirme ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Arena, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Abbey of Saint-Étienne

The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.

Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.

The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.

As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).