Halsnøy Abbey was a house of Augustinian Canons located on the island of Halsnøy. The monastery is believed to have been founded in 1163 or 1164 by the jarl Erling Skakke, as an inducement to Archbishop Øystein to crown Erling's seven-year-old son, Magnus Erlingsson, as King of Norway. The new foundation attracted many generous endowments and soon became one of the wealthiest in Norway.
The buildings were severely damaged in a fire about a hundred years later, and were rebuilt in Gothic style about 1300. The monastery was dissolved in 1536 during the Reformation and its lands and assets were confiscated by the Crown. For over 200 years it was administered as state property, but in 1758 the estate was bought by the chamberlain Andreas Juel, in whose family it remained until 1956. Lt. Andreas Juel, a descendant of the purchaser, demolished the remaining monastic buildings in about 1840 and built a new house from the stone in 1841.
In 1956 the site was bought by the Sunnhordland Museum, who have conserved the building remains. Halsnøy is very unusual among Norwegian monastic sites in that what survives is not the principal monastic buildings (church, chapter house and so on), but the smaller ancillary buildings. These survive on only two other pre-Reformation monastic sites in the country, Selje Abbey in the district of Nordfjord and Hovedøya Abbey in Oslo.References:
Augustusburg Palace represents one of the first examples of Rococo creations in Germany. For the Cologne elector and archbishop Clemens August of the House of Wittelsbach it was the favourite residence. In 1725 the Westphalian architect Johann Conrad Schlaun was commissioned by Clemens August to begin the construction of the palace on the ruins of a medieval moated castle.
In 1728, the Bavarian court architect François de Cuvilliés took over and made the palace into one of the most glorious residences of its time. Until its completion in 1768, numerous outstanding artists of European renown contributed to its beauty. A prime example of the calibre of artists employed here is Balthasar Neumann, who created the design for the magnificent staircase, an enchanting creation full of dynamism and elegance. The magical interplay of architecture, sculpture, painting and garden design made the Brühl Palaces a masterpiece of German Rococo.
UNESCO honoured history and present of the Rococo Palaces by inscribing Augustusburg Palace – together with Falkenlust Palace and their extensive gardens – on the World Heritage List in 1984. From 1949 onwards, Augustusburg Palace was used for representative purposes by the German Federal President and the Federal Government for many decades.
In 1728, Dominique Girard designed the palace gardens according to French models. Owing to constant renovation and care, it is today one of the most authentic examples of 18th century garden design in Europe. Next to the Baroque gardens, Peter Joseph Lenné redesigned the forested areas based on English landscaping models. Today it is a wonderful place to have a walk.