Notre-Dame de Carentan was built in the 11th century. It is mentioned for the first time in 1106 at the time of the visit of Henry I of England, on Easter day. From the Romanesque period there remain only the west door, the lower part of the pillars and the four main pillars of the crossing with the Romanesque arches.
During the Hundred Years' War in in 1443 the church was in ruins. Reconstruction started first with the nave and the south aisle. Guillaume de Cerisay, a knight and bailiff, richly endowed the church. Its surface area was doubled with the construction of the choir, ambulatories and the north aisle, about 1466. The inauguration took place in 1470. In 1517, the Chapelle du Rosaire (Chapel of the Rosary) was added and the end of the choir. From the same period are the screen surrounding the choir and about fifteen stained glass windows.
In June 1944, American bombers, at the time of D-Day, caused serious damage to the spire, the west door and the choir. The organ was badly damaged, stained glass shattered, the roof holed and the clock damaged. Fortunately, in 1940 the old stained glass had been taken out and stored in the countryside.
The church interior is decorated with paintings from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. In the choir, in the middle of the magnificent reredos behind the high altar (1655), one can admire a very beautiful “Assumption of the Virgin”, the work of Jacques de la Haie, probably from Falaise, painted for Notre-Dame in 1658. This picture is listed by the Beaux-Arts (French National Arts School), and is certainly the outstanding work in the church.References:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.