Selje Abbey was founded in about 1100 and was dedicated to Saint Alban. At the time of the abbey's foundation the island of Selje was an important Christian site. It was the location of the original shrine of Saint Sunniva, who was believed to have been martyred here, and for that reason was a place of pilgrimage, and also the seat of a bishopric and a cathedral dedicated to Saint Michael, established about 1070. The bishop was instrumental in the establishment of the monastery here, and throughout its history there remained a strong connection between the abbey and the bishopric. However, the bishop moved to Bergen shortly after the monastery was founded, although the shrine of Saint Sunniva did not leave the island for Bergen until about 1170. After that time the monastery remained here alone.
For the first two centuries of its existence it was a thriving and important centre, but a disastrous fire in 1305 gave the abbey a blow from which it never recovered. It is not clear to what extent the monastery was rebuilt. The small remaining community may have been wiped out by the Black Death in 1349, although there is a possibility that some sort of monastic community still existed on the island as late as 1451. If there was, it came to an end under Bishop Finnboge of Bergen (1461-1474), who dismissed the last abbot and took over the abbey estates for the use of the See of Bergen; an appeal to the Pope to divert them instead to the use of Nidarholm Abbey came to nothing.
The island site is spectacular, and because of the lack of later habitation and construction the ruins, not only of the abbey but of the old shrine of Saint Sunniva and of the cathedral, are extensive and extremely well preserved.The artist Bernt Tunold spent his childhood and some of his adult life on the island, and often painted the monastery ruins.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.