Gaztelugatxe is an islet on the coast of Biscay. On top of the island stands a hermitage, dedicated to John the Baptist, that dates from the 10th century, although discoveries indicate that the date might be the 9th century.
In the year 1053 it was donated, by don Íñigo López, Lord of Biscay, to the monastery of San Juan de la Peña near Jaca in Huesca. Medieval burials from the 9th and 12th centuries have been found on the esplanade and in the hermitage.
In 1593 it was attacked and sacked by Francis Drake. Among other incidents, it has caught fire several times. On November 10, 1978, it was destroyed in one such fire. Two years later, on June 24, 1980, it was re-inaugurated. The hermitage belongs to the parish of San Pelayo in Bakio.
The hermitage also houses votive offerings from sailors who survived shipwrecks.
The hermitage is accessed by a narrow path, crossing the solid stone bridge. According to legend, after the slightly strenuous climb to the top of the crag one should ring the bell three times and make a wish.
HBO filmed scenes for season 7 of its fantasy series Game of Thrones at the islet. Gaztelugatxe stood in for Dragonstone, with a digitally created castle on top of the islet.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).