Tautra Abbey was a Cistercian monastery founded in 1207 by monks from Lyse Abbey near Bergen. The site was an attractive one, and the earlier foundation of Munkeby Abbey seems to have been transferred here shortly after the foundation of this house. The abbey grew wealthy and powerful, and its abbots often played a major part in Norwegian politics.
Tautra Abbey was dissolved during the Reformation in Scandinavia in 1537, its lands were passed to the Crown, but the sizeable ruins of the church are still to be seen.
The present Tautra Monastery is a newly founded Trappistine community, and it is the first permanent Cistercian settlement in Norway since the Reformation. It was founded in 1999, near the ruins of the medieval monastery, as a foundation of Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey, located in Mississippi in the United States. The foundation stone was laid by Queen Sonja of Norway on 23 May 2003. The new monastery was granted general autonomy on 26 May 2006.The Trappistine nuns who established the monastery hope to be a point of contact and exchange between the Norwegian tradition and Cistercian spirituality.
On 25 March 2012, the status of the monastery was raised to that of Major Priory in the Cistercian Order. The following day, an election was held in which the founding prioress, Mother Rosemary Duncar, O.C.S.O., a native of the United States, was succeedeed by Sister Gilkrist Lavigne, O.C.S.O., a Canadian-American, who is now a citizen of Norway.
A community of Cistercians monks is in the process of being established nearby, near the former Munkeby Abbey, the first foundation of the Order in what is now Norway. The monk in residence serves as chaplain to the nuns. The new monastery will the first new foundation by the motherhouse of the Order, the Abbey of Cîteaux, since the 13th century.References:
Varberg Fortress was built in 1287-1300 by count Jacob Nielsen as protection against his Danish king, who had declared him an outlaw after the murder of King Eric V of Denmark. Jacob had close connections with king Eric II of Norway and as a result got substantial Norwegian assistance with the construction. The fortress, as well as half the county, became Norwegian in 1305.
King Eric's grand daughter, Ingeborg Håkansdotter, inherited the area from her father, King Haakon V of Norway. She and her husband, Eric, Duke of Södermanland, established a semi-independent state out of their Norwegian, Swedish and Danish counties until the death of Erik. They spent considerable time at the fortress. Their son, King Magnus IV of Sweden (Magnus VII of Norway), spent much time at the fortress as well.
The fortress was augmented during the late 16th and early 17th century on order by King Christian IV of Denmark. However, after the Treaty of Brömsebro in 1645 the fortress became Swedish. It was used as a military installation until 1830 and as a prison from the end of the 17th Century until 1931.
It is currently used as a museum and bed and breakfast as well as private accommodation. The moat of the fortress is said to be inhabited by a small lake monster. In August 2006, a couple of witnesses claimed to have seen the monster emerge from the dark water and devour a duck. The creature is described as brown, hairless and with a 40 cm long tail.