Ruins in France

Jumièges Abbey Ruins

Jumièges Abbey was founded in 654 on a gift of forested land belonging to the royal fisc presented by Clovis II and his queen, Balthild, to the Frankish nobleman Filibertus, who had been the companion of Saints Ouen and Wandrille at the Merovingian court of Dagobert I. Under the second abbot, Saint Achard, Jumièges prospered and soon numbered nearly a thousand monks. In the 9th century it was pillaged and b ...
Founded: 654 AD | Location: Jumièges, France

Château de Fécamp

Château de Fécamp originates from the 10th century and the stone castle was built in the 11th century. It was the residence of the first dukes of Normandy. perhaps as early as William Longsword and probably with his successors Richard I and Richard II, who are buried to the near Fécamp Abbey. The castle was damaged in the 19th century during the construction work of raiway.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Fécamp, France

Grand Bé

Grand Bé is a tidal island located few hundred metres from the walls of Saint-Malo. At low tide the island can be reached on foot from the nearby Bon-Secours beach. Around 1360, hermits built a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Laurel, then to St Ouen. A redoubt was built in 1555, then replaced by other fortifications in 1652. François-René de Chateaubriand, a French writer native to Saint-Malo, is ...
Founded: 1652 | Location: Saint-Malo, France

Château de Mehun-sur-Yèvre

The existence of a fortification at the site of Mehun-sur-Yèvre dates from antiquity. The major remains are of the early 13th century and the later 14th century. The present standing ruins date from a castle founded under the Courtenays after 1209. This fortress was transformed into a princely residence by John, Duke of Berry in 1367. Largely ruined in the 18th century the castle represented an excellent example of ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Mehun-sur-Yèvre, France

Sancerre Castle Ruins

The feudal castle of Sancerre was one of the strongest castles of the Middle Ages built in France. It was the seat of Counts of Sancerre. The future king Charles VII and Joan of Arc stayed at the Chateau de Sancerre, which was strategically placed on the border of the "kingdom of Bourges." The town of Sancerre was formerly fortified. It was built under the castle, closing access to the less steep slope of the mountain. T ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Sancerre, France

Château de Lavardin Ruins

The remains of the Château de Lavardin stand on a rocky promontory, above the village and the Loir. Built starting from the beginning of the 11th century by the first lords of Lavardin, the castle was sold to the count of Vendôme around 1130, becoming his principal fortress from the end of the 12th century. Completely altered in the 14th and 15th centuries, it was taken by the members of the Catholic League in ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Lavardin, France

Château du Guildo

Château du Guildo dates from the 11th century, when there was a fortified manor, probably made of wood. The stone castle was built in the 13th century in three phases. It was destroyed a century later and the new castle construction began in the late 1300s. Later it was restored as a living residence, but badly damaged in the late 1400s during the French-Breton War. The castle took part also to the Wars of Religion, ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Saint-Jacut-de-la-Mer, France

Château de Trémazan

Château de Trémazan was constructed on a rocky outcrop and had a square keep which, following a partial collapse during the winter of 1995, exposed the interior to reveal a habitable tower of four floors, each with one chamber. The history of Trémazan is intimately linked to that of the du Chastel (or Châtel) family. It was they who built it and made it their principal residence for several centuries. The origins of ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Landunvez, France

Hambye Abbey Ruins

Located in the Normandy countryside, near from the Mont Saint-Michel, the Abbey of Notre Dame of Hambye was founded around 1145 by William Painel, Lord of Hambye, and Algare, bishop of Coutances. The monastery was established by a group of Benedictine monks from Tiron (Perche region in south-east of Basse-Normandie). Fueled by an ideal of rigor and austerity close to that of Cistercians, Benedictine monks built a sober an ...
Founded: c. 1145 | Location: Hambye, France

Hohenburg Castle Ruins

Hohenburg castle is assumed to be constructed in the second half of the 13th century. The influence of the Hohenburg family was extensive in the area between Bitche, Saargmünd and Pirmasens. There were feudal relations with the King but also to the Count of Zweibrücken and to the Counts Palatine. The castle is situated close to the German-French border on the Alsace side. The first known representative of a Hoh ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Lembach, France

Abbey of Saint Bertin

The Abbey of St. Bertin was a Benedictine abbey, but today in ruins (the town's town-hall was built with stone from the abbey in 1834) and open to the public. It was dedicated to its second abbot, Saint Bertin. The monastery was founded on the banks of the Aa in the 7th century by the bishop of Thérouanne, who sent the monks Bertin, Momelin and Ebertram from Omer to proselytize among the pagans in the region. The Abbey ...
Founded: 7th century AD | Location: Saint-Omer, France

Château Renault Ruins

Count of Blois Thibault IV built Château Renault in 1140. It consisted of a tower, surrounding walls and a moat on three sides. Today the tower and parts of walls remain as ruined.
Founded: 1140 | Location: Château-Renault, France

Château des Ducs d'Alençon

The 15th century Château des Ducs was a massive castle in Alençon. The first castle, built in the 11th century, is completely disappeared today. The next castle was built by Peter II, the count of Alençon between 1361-1404. It was demolished 1592. Today only a impressive gatehouse and part of the walls remain.
Founded: 1361-1404 | Location: Alençon, France

Château d'Arques-la-Bataille

Château d"Arques-la-Bataille was originally a motte-and-bailey castle built to the steep hill around 1050. The castle was reconstruted in the 12th century. The long curtain wall and moat surrounded the Norman style donjon, a keep. The castle saw several battles and besieges during the centuries; the rebellion in 1052, Hundred Years" War and the most well-known in 1589 as part of the Wars of Religion. In 16 ...
Founded: c. 1050 | Location: Arques-la-Bataille, France

Mont Saint-Eloi Abbey Ruins

On a hill overlooking Arras stand the remains of two towers which bear testament not only to the once-powerful Mont-Saint-Eloi Abbey. According to legend the abbey was established in the 7th century by Saint Vindicianus, a disciple of Saint Eligius, and by the Middle Ages it had become a powerful religious centre; however the turbulent times of the Revolution saw its walls pillaged for their stone. All that survived were ...
Founded: 600-700 AD | Location: Mont-Saint-Éloi, France

Château de Domfront

Château de Domfront is a ruined castle dating from the 11th century. In 1049, the castle, belonging to Guillaume II Talvas, lord of Bellême, was besieged by William the Conqueror, duke of Normandy. In 1092, the people of Domfront revolted against Robert II de Bellême, Earl of Shrewsbury, transferring their allegiance to the third son of William the Conqueror, Henri Beauclerc, who became duke of Normandy ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Domfront, France

Château de Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier

The ruins of the castle of Saint-Aubin-of-Cormier point out a significant event of Breton history. Affected by the catch of Saint-Aubin, François II, Duke of Brittany, an army of 11000 men constitutes to take again the places. During the famous battle of July 28, 1488, the French troops embank their adversaries. This event announces the end of independence of Brittany which will concretize itself with the marriage ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Saint-Aubin-du-Cormier, France

Mortemer Abbey Ruins

Mortemer Abbey was originally built in 1134 on land gifted to the Cistercians by Henry I of England. The stagnant water of the drainage lake, dug out by the monks to dry up the marshy land around the quick running Fouillebroc stream, was called 'dead mere', 'dead pond' - in modern French 'morte mare' - and gave the monastery its name. The monks constructed what was then one of the largest Ci ...
Founded: 1134 | Location: Lisors, France

Aleth Cathedral Ruins

Aleth was a Gallo-Roman settlement on a peninsula on one side of the Rance estuary. The bishopric was established in the 9th century. Aleth Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Pierre d"Aleth) was destroyed by Norman invaders in the 10th century but later rebuilt. The site of Aleth however was not a secure one and the town of Saint-Malo had begun to grow up on a far more defensible site on a rocky islet in the estuary ...
Founded: 920 AD | Location: Saint-Malo, France

Château de la Roche-Maurice Ruins

According a legend, the original castle in Roche-Maurice was built by lord Élorn in the 5th century. However the first Château de la Roche-Maurice was built in the 11th century. It was demolished due the royal order in 1490.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Roche-Maurice, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Wawel Castle

Wawel Hill – a Jurassic limestone rock, a dominant feature in the landscape of Kraków, have provided a safe haven for people who have settled here since the Paleolithic Age. It is supposed that the Slav people started living on Wawel hill as early as the 7th century. Early medieval legends tell stories about a dreadful dragon that lived in a cave on Wawel Hill, about his slayer Krakus, and about the latter’s daughter Wanda, who drowned herself in the Vistula rather than marry a German knight. Towards the end of the first millennium A.D Wawel began to play the role of the centre of political power.In the 9th century it became the principal fortified castrum of the Vislane tribe. The first historical ruler of Poland, Miesco I (c.965-992) of the Piast dynasty as well as his successors: Boleslas the Brave (992-1025) and Miesco II (1025-1034) chose Wawel Hill as one of their residences.

At that time Wawel became one of the main Polish centres of Christianity. The first early Romanesque and Romanesque sacral buildings were raised here, including a stone cathedral that was erected after the bishopric of Kraków was established in the year 1000.

During the reign of Casimir the Restorer (1034-1058) Wawel became a significant political and administrative centre for the Polish State. Casimir’s son, Boleslas the Bold (1058-1079) began the construction of a second Romanesque cathedral, which was finished by Boleslas the Wrymouth (1102-1138). In his last will of 1138, this prince divided Poland into districts, and provided that Kraków was to be the residence of the senior prince. In 1291 the city of Kraków along with Wawel Hill temporarily fell under the Czech rule, and Wenceslas II from the Premysl dynasty was crowned King of Poland in Wawel cathedral.

In 1306 the Duke of Kuyavia Ladislas the Short (1306-1333) entered Wawel and was crowned King of Poland in the Cathedral in 1320. It was the first historically recorded coronation of a Polish ruler on Wawel Hill. Around that time, at the initiative of Ladislas the Short, the construction of the third Gothic cathedral began, the castle was expanded and the old wooden and earthen fortifications were replaced by brick ones. The tomb of Ladislas the Short in the cathedral started a royal necropolis of Polish kings in Krakow.The last descendant of the Piast dynasty, Casimir the Great (1333-1370) brought Wawel to a state of unprecedented splendour. In 1364 the expanded gothic castle witnessed the marriage of Casimir’s granddaughter Elizabeth to Charles IV accompanied by a famous convention of kings and princes, subsequently entertained by a rich burgher Wierzynek. The accession to the throne in 1385 of Jadwiga from the Hungarian dynasty of Andegavens, and her marriage to a Lithuanian prince Ladislas Jagiello (1386-1434) started another era of prosperity for Wawel. The royal court employed local and western European artists and also Rus painters. During the reign of Casimir Jagiellon (1447-1492) the silhouette of the hill was enriched by three high brick towers: the Thieves’ Tower, the Sandomierz Tower and the Senatorial Tower. The first humanists in Poland and tutors to the king’s sons: historian Jan Długosz and an Italian by the name Filippo Buonacorsi (also known as Callimachus) worked there at that time.

The Italian Renaissance arrived at Wawel in the early 16th century. King Alexander (1501-1506) and his brother Sigismund I the Old (1506-1548) commissioned the construction of a new palace in place of the Gothic residence, with an impressive large courtyard with arcaded galleries which was completed about 1540. Sigismund’s patronage also left an indelible impression in the cathedral, where a family chapel was erected, known today as Sigismund’s Chapel - the work of Bartolomeo of Berrecci Florence, and through various foundations, one of which was that of a large bell, called the Sigismund to commemorate the king. Close artistic and cultural relations with Italy were strengthened in 1518 by the king’s marriage to Bona Sforza. Alongside Italian artists, German architects, wood workers, painters and metal smiths worked for the king. The last descendant of the Jagiellonian dynasty, Sigismund II Augustus (1548-1572), enriched the castle’s interiors with a magnificent collection of tapestries woven in Brussels. In the “Golden Age” of Polish culture Wawel became one of the main centres of humanism in Europe.

The reign of Sigismund III Waza (1587-1632) also made a strong impression on the history of Wawel. After a fire in the castle in 1595 the king rebuilt the burned wing of the building in the early Baroque style. The relocation of the royal court to Warsaw was the cause of a slow but nevertheless steady deterioration in the castle’s condition. The monarchs visited Kraków only occasionally. Restoration of the castle was undertaken during the reign of John III Sobieski, the Wettins and Stanislas Augustus to counteract neglect.

After Poland had lost its independence in 1795, the troops of partitioning nations, Russia, Prussia and Austria, subsequently occupied Wawel which finally passed into the hands of the Austrians. The new owners converted the castle and some of the secular buildings into a military hospital, and demolished some others, including churches. After the period of the Free City of Kraków (1815-1846) Wawel was once more annexed by Austria and turned into a citadel dominating the city. By the resolution passed by the Seym of Galicia in 1880, the castle was presented as a residence to the Emperor of Austria Franz Josef I. The Austrian troops left the hill between 1905-1911. At the turn of the 20th century a thorough restoration of the cathedral was conducted, and shortly afterwards a process of restoration of the royal castle began which lasted several decades.

When Poland regained its independence in 1918, the castle served as an official residence of the Head of State, and as a museum of historic interiors. During the Nazi occupation the castle was the residence of the German governor general, Hans Frank. Polish people managed to remove the most valuable objects, including the tapestries and the “Szczerbiec” coronation sword to Canada, from where they returned as late as 1959-1961. At present, the main curators of Wawel are Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collection and the Metropolitan Basilica Board on Wawel Hill.