On a hill overlooking Arras stand the remains of two towers which bear testament not only to the once-powerful Mont-Saint-Eloi Abbey. According to legend the abbey was established in the 7th century by Saint Vindicianus, a disciple of Saint Eligius, and by the Middle Ages it had become a powerful religious centre; however the turbulent times of the Revolution saw its walls pillaged for their stone. All that survived were the twin towers of white limestone and the porch on the west wall.
From the beginning of the First World War the towers were used by French troops to observe German positions on Lorette Spur and Vimy Ridge. The suspicions of the French soldiers were aroused when Germans fired upon their every movement until it was realized that what was giving them away was not a spy but the birds nesting on the towers which took flight when troops disturbed them. In 1915 heavy shelling truncated the towers, reducing their height from fifty-three to forty-four metres.
In early 1916 the British Army relieved French troops in the sector. The latter had established an extension to the local cemetery in Ecoivres, at the foot of the hill, to bury 786 of their soldiers who died there, mostly in the fighting of 1915. A military tramway used to carry supplies to the troops at the front also served as an ambulance to bring back the dead and wounded. This transport system conferred on Ecoivres Military Cemetery an unusual feature in that, from the French extension to the Cross of Sacrifice, the graves of the mostly British and Canadian soldiers are in chronological order relating to the date of death: the graves of the men of the 46th North Midland Division who relieved the French in March 1916 are followed by those of the 25th Division who fell in the German attack at the foot of Vimy Ridge in May 1916; next come the men of the 47th London Division who died between July and October 1916 and finally the graves of the Canadians who lost their lives in the successful assault on Vimy Ridge in April 1917.References:
The castle of La Iruela, small but astonishing, is located on the top of a steep crag in Sierra de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park. From the castle, impressive views of the surrounding area and of the town can be enjoyed.
The keep dates from the Christian era. It has a square base and small dimensions and is located at the highest part of the crag.
There are some other enclosures within the tower that create a small alcázar which is difficult to access.
In a lower area of the castle, protected with defensive remains of rammed earth and irregular masonry, is an old Muslim farmstead.
After a recent restoration, an open-air theater has been built on La Iruela castle enclosure. This theater is a tribute to the Greek and Classic Eras and holds various artistic and cultural shows throughout the year.
The first traces of human activity in La Iruela area are dated from the Copper Age. An intense occupation continued until the Bronze Age.
Originally, La Iruela (like Cazorla) was a modest farmstead. From the 11th century, a wall and a small fortress were built on the hill to protect the farmers.
Around 1231, don Rodrigo Ximénez de Rada, Archbishop of Toledo, conquered La Iruela and made it part of the Adelantamiento de Cazorla. Over the Muslim fortress, the current fortress was built.
Once the military use of the fortress ended, it was used as cemetery.