Monasterio de Santa María de Valdediós is a 13th-century Catholic monastery near Villaviciosa. The Cistercian monastery was founded by Alfonso IX and dedicated to the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was built by master builder Gualterio between 1218 and 1226, according to an inscription on the northern portal.
Throughout its history, the monastery has had different uses, housing a secondary school and a seminary. After years of neglect, it was once again inhabited by monks until they finally left in 2012.
It was one of the most important and most powerful Cistercian monasteries in Asturias. The founding charter was granted by King Alfonso IX of León and Queen Berengaria in 1200, although construction did not begin until 1218 and lasted until 1226.
It can be said that the church was practically engulfed by other monastic buildings erected in the wake of terrible flooding. The new buildings, built between the 16th and 18th centuries, housed the cloister and different monastic buildings. The 16th century saw the building of the choir gallery, the vestry, the chapter house, the guest house and the abbot's residence. In the 17th century, a vaulted porch was added in front of the west façade and work began to raise the bell gable, completed in the 18th century.
The Latin cross ground plan adjusts to the Benedictine canon with three naves, a high transept and three staggered semi-circular apses, the central one being larger and more pronounced than those on the sides. The naves are separated by pointed Gothic arches resting on cruciform pillars in the nave and semi-circular arches in the aisles. Finely-hewn stone is the material used for the various vaulted ceilings: groin vaulting in the naves and transept, and barrel vaulting and cul-de-four in the apses. The church corresponds to the aesthetic canons of the Cistercian Order: proportion, clarity, clean lines and durability. The aim was to achieve an architectural structure with no ornamentation, making the visual arts secondary in importance, except in specific places such as the capitals, portals or windows, without figurative motifs or narrative cycles that might disturb meditation or prayer.
The interior is illuminated by means of two tiers of splayed archivolts windows.
The main façade has three Romanesque portals, the central, larger one being especially noteworthy, with three ornate semi-circular archivolts with typical zigzag motifs and plant-motif capitals. The tympanum conserves traces of frescoes depicting the image of Our Lady of the Assumption, surrounded by a choir of angels. In the north wing of the transept is the Door of the Dead, where the bodies of dead monks were removed to the monastery.
The cloister has a classical layout and is considered the largest of those existing in Asturias. It has three heights corresponding to different construction stages: the ground floor dates from the 16th century and is closed by semi-circular arches; the second floor is from the 17th century and has three-centred arches, while the top floor, dating from the 18th century, has simple lintels on columns. In the centre of the cloister there is an octagonal fountain and on one side a niche protects a statue of Our Lady of Antigua.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".