Le Rœulx Castle, also known as the Château des Princes de Croÿ, is family seat of the Comtes de Croÿ-Rœulx. The origins of the castle date to a fortified structure from the 11th century. It was redeveloped in the 16th century by Adrien de Croÿ and most of the castle was destroyed in the middle of the same century. Views from the very beginning of the 17th century show a house made up of a main accommodation section and two towers that are radically different from the current castle, which is the result of conversion works carried out in the second half of the 18th century.
The building itself, which evokes a certain French-style classicism, mixes both sources of local inspiration (a mixture of brick and stone) and also the Germanic (tending towards the horizontal). The result is a U-shape consisting of a main wing and side wings enclosing a main courtyard. The junction between these wings and the façade is unusual as a result of the convex structures placed in the corner. The central section of the building, which has a frontage with balcony and dome in the centre of a symmetrical composition, houses a vestibule displaying some traces of the previous building, as well as a majestic and profusely decorated main staircase, as well as the stairwell lit by the skylight, with décor in Rocaille style. Finally, the remarkable main drawing room is exquisite testament to the decorative style of the 18th century.References:
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).