The Benedictine Sorde Abbey in the village Sorde-l’Abbaye was founded at the end of the 10th century on the banks of the Gave d’Oloron river. This remarkable architectural ensemble overlooks a natural setting that is now protected.

The abbot’s residence from the 14th and 15th centuries was built on the remains of a Roman villa (3rd- 6th centuries). Currently being restored, the building is open to the public during the National Archaeology Days and European Heritage Days: tour of the thermal baths and ancient mosaics. 

The monastery buildings were rebuilt at the end of the 17th century. They are open to the public from March to November.The abbey church's the tympanum, decorative capitals, Romanesque period mosaics and an impressive 18th century marble high altar are some of the most interesting works. A miniature model shows what the abbey looked like before it was last destroyed.

Sorde Abbey is listed as an Historic Monument and has been included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List as part of the Pilgrim’s Route in France to Santiago de Compostela.



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Founded: 10th century AD
Category: Religious sites in France
Historical period: Birth of Capetian dynasty (France)

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4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Paul Tulip (3 years ago)
A very interesting and pretty place to visit
Helene Coyne-Tulip (3 years ago)
Very beautiful historic Abbaye and Church well worth the visit
Barbara Melton (3 years ago)
A very well kept abbey in a pretty village. It was a very hot day so keeping in the shade overrode some of the commentary!
Tove Lau (4 years ago)
went for an evening visit with very low expectations. It was simply magic! brought my 3 year old who loved It too. Caves under the monastry were cool and make sure to visit the place close to the river
Patricia Phelan (4 years ago)
Beautiful peaceful surroundings and the Abbaye is splendid. A fascinating scale model of the Abbaye and it's surroundings of how it must have looked is something to go look at. Beautiful stained glass windows too.
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Lorca Castle

Castle of Lorca (Castillo de Lorca) is a fortress of medieval origin constructed between the 9th and 15th centuries. It consists of a series of defensive structures that, during the Middle Ages, made the town and the fortress an impregnable point in the southeast part of the Iberian Peninsula. Lorca Castle was a key strategic point of contention between Christians and Muslims during the Reconquista.

Archaeological excavations have revealed that the site of the castle has been inhabited since Neolithic times.

Muslim Era

It has not been determined exactly when a castle or fortress was first built on the hill. The first written documentation referring to a castle at Lorca is of Muslim origin, which in the 9th century, indicates that the city of Lurqa was an important town in the area ruled by Theudimer (Tudmir). During Muslim rule, Lorca Castle was an impregnable fortress and its interior was divided into two sections by the Espaldón Wall. In the western part, there was an area used to protect livestock and grain in times of danger. The eastern part had a neighbourhood called the barrio de Alcalá.

After Reconquista

Lorca was conquered by the Castilian Infante Don Alfonso, the future Alfonso X, in 1244, and the fortress became a key defensive point against the Kingdom of Granada. For 250 years, Lorca Castle was a watchpoint on the border between the Christian kingdom of Murcia and the Muslim state of Granada.

Alfonso X ordered the construction of the towers known as the Alfonsina and Espolón Towers, and strengthened and fixed the walls. Hardly a trace of the Muslim fortress remained due to this reconstruction. Muslim traces remain in the foundation stones and the wall known as the muro del Espaldón.

The Jewish Quarter was found within the alcazaba, the Moorish fortification, separated from the rest of the city by its walls. The physical separation had the purpose of protecting the Jewish people in the town from harm, but also had the result of keeping Christians and Jews separate, with the Christians inhabiting the lower part of town.

The remains of the Jewish Quarter extended over an area of 5,700 square m, and 12 homes and a synagogue have been found; the synagogue dates from the 14th century and is the only one found in the Murcia. The streets of the town had an irregular layout, adapted to the landscape, and is divided into four terraces. The synagogue was in the central location, and around it were the homes. The homes were of rectangular shape, with various compartmentalized rooms. The living quarters were elevated and a common feature was benches attached to the walls, kitchens, stand for earthenware jars, or cupboards.

Modern history

With the disappearance of the frontier after the conquest of Granada in 1492, Lorca Castle no longer became as important as before. With the expulsion of the Jews by order of Ferdinand and Isabella, Lorca Castle was also depopulated as a result. The castle was abandoned completely, and was almost a complete ruin by the 18th century. In the 19th century, the castle was refurbished due to the War of Spanish Independence. The walls and structures were repaired or modified and its medieval look changed. A battery of cannons was installed, for example, during this time. In 1931 Lorca Castle was declared a National Historic Monument.

Currently, a parador (luxury hotel) has been built within the castle. As a result, archaeological discoveries have been found, including the Jewish Quarter.