Považský is a ruin of medieval castle on the right side of the river Váh, built on a cliff 497 meters above sea level. It was one of the most important castles guarding the valley of the river Váh. The first settlement of the castle cliff is dated to Púchov culture, also a Celtic coin was found on the hill. The exact year of establishment of the Bistrizza castle is not known, but it is assumed that it might have been around 1128 AD. There are doubts that the castle in those times might have been made of wood because of the presence of two other wooden castles in present day Slovakia. For the shift from wooden castle is probably responsible Béla IV, after the invasions of Batu Khan. However, the first written reference is from 1316, closely connected to Matthew III Csák. The next holder of the castle was county judge Alexander Héderváry. Together with his son Mikulas, they ruled from 1325 to 1354. From 1354 the castle belonged to Pavol Ugali, chancellor of ex-county judge. During last few years of the 14th century, King Sigismund gave the fortress to palatine Sudivoj, but the owner was quickly changed, and from 1400 to 1425 it belonged to Ctibor of Beckov. Then it became the possession of a king.
In 1458 Matthias Corvinus of Hungary donated the castle, the town and 16 surrounding villages to Ladislav Podmanitzky for his devotion to him, preceded by violent death of his father Anton Podmanitzky in the service of the king. His diligent work for the ruler prepared a good position for his sons and great upsurge of his possession.
His sons had important roles in the future of middle Europe. Jan Podmaniczky became the Archbishop of Zagreb and personal mentor of Vladislas II. His brother Stefan Podmanitzky became Archbishop of Nitra, he coronated both János Szapolyai and Ferdinand I as the kings of the country, but later he took the Habsburgs' side due to their stretching influence around Nitra. He was one of the leaders of the Counter-Reformation in the times when Martin Luther's influence just started to reach the country. His third son Michal Podmanitzky became chamberlain of King Louis II. He with his brother Stefan participated in the Battle of Mohács, from which he never returned. He left three daughters and sons Jan and Rafael.
After the Battle of Mohács in 1526, the country was divided between two kings, János Szapolyai and Ferdinand I.
This dispute used Jan Podmanitzky and his brother Rafael Podmanitzky to gain power in the region; Považský hrad was the centre of their influence. They took the side of János Szapolyai although most of the region was under control of the Habsburgs. Possession of Podmanitzky, with a hard centre Považský hrad withstood attacks of king's army led by Katzainer, to whom Trencin gave up in the summer of 1528, but they even gained new possessions around Lednica. They were famous for their successful raids all around the region. In those times they were limitless rulers of the region; the whole northern part of the county, under their reign, was independent from the rest of the county controlled by Ferdinand I . In the 1530s they became involved in the fight against Protestant family Kostka. For their involvement they were given the manor of Vesprim. They split up in 1537 to create their own manors, leaving Rafael in the region and Jan creating Vesprim manor, but they both still continued with their raids. In 1542 their raids were issued on the king's court. After settling down the possession matters with Kostka, they accepted the results.
A great fire started in 1543 devastated the castle but the owner invested great effort to rebuild it. In 1560 the castle was donated to Gašpar Serédi. After his death his wife married Ondrej Balassa. The castle was shelter for the Balassa family during an uprising of Francis II Rákóczi against the Habsburgs. The castle, due to its well-built fort, resisted. Because of a lack of luxury, the Balassa family moved from the castle to the mansion below the castle cliff. The place was then used during the rebellion against Leopold I, so to prevent more rebellion the emperor ordered the castle to be destroyed. It was burned by his troops in 1698. The ruins were again damaged by earthquake in 1858.
The castle with shingle roof belonged in times of his fame to one of biggest well-fortified buildings of that kind. The ground plan of the building has a fid shape. The entrance to the castle was protected by an entrance tower, a barbican and two bastions, parts of a strong wall through which the castle crew protected themselves in case of danger. The ground floor of the tower was used as a storage place for munitions. Here was probably also a secret gate through which people from the castle were supplied in cases of attack, when the main entrance was built-in. On the northern side there was a cuboid tower, used as a prison. On the east of the tower there was a main gate for carriages. A few metres ahead was a warehouse of cannons, next to them houses of nobles and a chapel. These parts are nowadays most devastated. On the southwest there were flats, and under them other warehouses, granary, kitchens and pantries. The castle had three floors. The water supply was ensured by underground wooden pipes from the well Sklepita. The remains of these pipes were found in the early 20th century. In front of the castle was a moat. Sandstone and limestone were used as building materials.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).