The St. Vigor abbey (Saint-Vigor de Cerisy-la-Forêt) was founded in 1032 by Duke Robert the Magnificent. It inherited the remote site of a small religious establishment founded at the beginning of the 6th century by St Vigor, Bishop of Bayeux, and destroyed by the Scandinavian invasions; the Benedictines thus restored, as at Saint-Marcouf or Orval, a religious continuity after this interruption. Nothing now survives of the ducal monastery and the current abbey church belongs to a reconstruction dating from the last quarter of the 11th century.
Externally, the church had the major part of its nave (five bays) cut off in 1811. The north transept and the upper stage of the crossing tower were re-built in the 18th century. On the inside, the choir apse was provided with its gothic vaults in the 14th century and the crossing piers were encased in sturdy cylindrical pillars in the 15th century. These additions have, however, had little impact on the Romanesque architecture of Cerisy.
The church follows the traditional ground plan of the great Norman abbeys; the elevation of three levels (large arcades with double roll moulding and composite pillars, galleries and clerestory), and the ceiling is of wood. In the nave the gallery has two large openings incorporated into a round-headed arch, and in the choir it has two twin openings. The Norman technique of using a thick wall enables the insertion of a passage at the level of the clerestory (another trait of the region’s architecture) and as a result of the double wall thereby created the outer has a large Romanesque opening, and the inner has three openings surrounded by a torus moulding with two lateral colonnettes (not unlike the original arrangement of the nave in Saint-Etienne in Caen).
The most strikingly original feature, however, is the superimposition both of three levels of openings in the end wall of the choir apse and of two ambulatory galleries (this considerable lightening of the Romanesque masonry in favour of the admission of light necessitated the later construction of two solid buttresses).
The objective of creating a feeling of openness and light by limiting the extent of the walls and multiplying the openings so as to harmonise and lighten the three levels (one, two, then three openings), and by simplifying the decoration in favour of the lines and rhythms of the arches, was inspired by the great abbey church of St Etienne (Caen). This is also a testimony to the degree of balance achieved by Norman Romanesque art at the end of the 11th century, before the great English abbeys and cathedrals moved things on to the next stage.References:
The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.
According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while in 961 Al-Hakam II enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of such reforms was carried out by Almanzor in 987. It was connected to the Caliph"s palace by a raised walkway, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers – as well as Christian Kings who built their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.
In 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the centre of the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. Alfonso X oversaw the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel within the mosque. The kings who followed added further Christian features, such as King Henry II rebuilding the chapel in the 14th century. The minaret of the mosque was also converted to the bell tower of the cathedral. It was adorned with Santiago de Compostela"s captured cathedral bells. Following a windstorm in 1589, the former minaret was further reinforced by encasing it within a new structure.
The most significant alteration was the building of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the expansive structure. The insertion was constructed by permission of Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon. Artisans and architects continued to add to the existing structure until the late 18th century.
The building"s floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large and flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.
In planning the mosque, the architects incorporated a number of Roman columns with choice capitals. Some of the columns were already in the Gothic structure; others were sent from various regions of Iberia as presents from the governors of provinces. Ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass were used in the decorations. Marvellous mosaics and azulejos were designed. Later, the immense temple embodied all the styles of Morisco architecture into one composition.
The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, granite and porphyry. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple that had occupied the site previously, as well as other Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. The double arches were an innovation, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch.