Hronský Beňadik is best known for a very important Benedictine abbey, which played in important role in the Christianization process and in the development of culture and education. It was founded in 1075 by King Géza I. The fortified abbey is one of the oldest and most important architectural monuments of Slovakia.
The surviving Gothic basilica of St. Egidius was built in the years 1346-1375 to the grounds of first abbey. The monastery was rebuilt into a fort supposed to resist Turkish raids in 1537. Walls and canon bastions were added then. However, construction of fortification also meant destruction of some of its Gothic parts. They reappeared in altered form during the period of Romanticism reconstruction carried out at the end of the 19th century.
The church of the monastery contains valuable works of art (a wood-carving of the Holy Sepulchre, a wall-painting presenting the legend of St. George, an altar depicting the Passion, a sculpture of Jesus Christ from the 13th century, a Madonna sculpture from the 14th century, etc.).References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).