Herrevad Abbey was founded from Cîteaux Abbey in 1144 as Denmark's first Cistercian monastery with the support of Archbishop Eskil of Lund. The original name, Herivad, meant the "army ford", referring to a ford over the Rønne River. After the construction of the abbey it became known as Herrevad, or "the Lord's ford", most likely because of the fee payable to the abbey for using the ford, and later the bridge, for commerce.

The abbey was consecrated in 1150, though it was far from complete; the original dedication was probably to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The church was begun in 1158 and built in the Romanesque style out of sandstone. Construction extended over several decades and for reasons of expense was continued in brick.

The original monastery complex was severely damaged by a fire in 1291. The original sandstone was ruined by the heat of the fire, and so a new and larger Brick Gothic church was begun, second in size only to Lund Cathedral itself. The abbey precinct consisted of the large church and three ranges which served as a dormitory, a refectory and cellars, a range for the housing of the lay brothers who did the farm work and administered to the abbey's temporal affairs, and a small library and scriptorium where religious texts were copied. Though there is some dispute, some scholars believe the Codex Runicus, a medieval attempt to use runes for writing the Law of Skåne, was produced there.

Herrevad Abbey over time became one of the largest and wealthiest monastic houses in Denmark, and certainly in Skåne, then part of Denmark. At its height, the abbey owned more than 400 income-producing properties. It enjoyed the support of the nobility and Denmark's royal family for generations. Herrevad established three daughter houses in Denmark - Holme Abbey, Tvis Abbey and Løgum Abbey - as well as several in Sweden.

In 1513 the final addition to the abbey church was completed when the choir was expanded. The Cistercian commitment to hard work and good land use practices resulted in the abbey being of great value to the crown. In 1536 during the Protestant Reformation Denmark became a Lutheran kingdom, and all religious houses and their property fell to the crown. In an unusual move the abbey with its farms was secularized but went on functioning much as it had as a monastery. The monks and lay brothers were permitted to remain until the site was turned over to the crown in 1565 by Abbot Laurids, whose tombstone has been preserved inside the chapel at Herrevad Castle. The date of his death, 30 October 1572, is certainly among the latest of surviving heads of any religious house in Skåne. The abbey school continued to function until 1575. The abbey church continued to hold Lutheran services until 1585 when it was determined that the church was superfluous.

Herrevad was given to Sten Bille, a prominent nobleman, and his wife for their lifetimes. Bille was the uncle of Tycho Brahe and after Brahe's studies abroad suggested that he live at Herrevad. Bille paid for the construction of a laboratory in one of the old monastery buildings for Brahe to use. He used the laboratory to invent an improvement for the manufacture of paper. By 1570 Brahe was producing paper in Scandinavia for the first time at the Klippan Mill near Herrevad. At his request a glassworks was also constructed at Herrevad, the first in the country. Tycho Brahe became a world-famous astronomer at Herrevad when on the night of 11 November 1572 he recorded a new star "brighter than Venus" located in the constellation Cassiopeia.

Herrevad passed to several other nobles until 1658 when Skåne was united with Sweden. Herrevad was then given to the Swedish Count Corfitz Ulfeldt and afterwards passed to several other Swedish nobles, but eventually reverted back to the Swedish crown. The abbey was sacked by the Danish army in the wars between Denmark and Sweden in 1709-1710. Karl XI of Sweden ordered the ruined abbey buildings to be demolished and the materials transported to Malmø to build his German Church. The only existing remnant of the abbey is part of the old sacristy of the church which was used as a shed.

Herrevad was put at the disposal of the Northern Skåne Cavalry Regiment in 1691 after the demolition of the monastery complex. By 1727 a new building for the regimental headquarters had been raised from building materials left over from the demolition of the abbey. It later became a residence for the commander, but retained the name Herrevad Abbey. In 1745 the residence was expanded. Two wings were added in 1816-1819 in the Empire style, and the name Herrevad Castle formally adopted. The buildings were used by various military units until 1994 when Herrevad Castle passed into private ownership. It is currently undergoing restoration.

In the 1980s an excavation located the foundations of the choir and parts of the nave, which may still be seen.

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13, Ljungbyhed, Sweden
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Founded: 1144
Category: Religious sites in Sweden
Historical period: Consolidation (Sweden)

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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.