Padise Monastery was a former Cistercian monastery. It was founded in 1310 by the dispossessed monks of Dünamünde Abbey in Latvia. King Eric VI of Denmark gave them permission to build a fortified monastery in Padise, where they moved in 1310, although construction of the stone buildings did not begin until 1317.
By 1343, at the time of the St. George's Night Uprising, when it was still only partly built, the monastery was burnt down and 28 monks, lay brothers and German vassals were killed. Rebuilding began in 1370. By 1445 all major works, including the construction of the gatehouse and the residential and service buildings, had been completed, and vaulting had been added to the church roof. The consecration of the main building took place in 1448.
Around the year 1400 Padise monastery had acquired extensive estates in Estonia and also in southern Finland and throughout the 15th century enjoyed a period of great prosperity and influence as one of the most important spiritual centres of Estonia. It began however to sell off its lands and entered a period of decline in the beginning 16th century. Nevertheless it survived the upheavals of the Reformation in the 1520s.
In the Livonian War, the last Master of the Livonian Order, Gotthard Kettler, fearing after the invasion of the Russians that the Swedes would occupy the monastery, occupied it himself in 1558, and in 1559 dissolved it, ejecting the monks and confiscating the buildings and estates. He converted the monastery itself into a fortress, which the Swedes duly took in 1561. In 1576 the Russians besieged and took it, and during their occupation strengthened the fortifications, but four years later were in their turn besieged by the returning Swedes, who regained it in 1580 after a long siege and a damaging bombardment.
In 1622 King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden gave the estates of the former Padise monastery to Thomas Ramm, Burgermeister of Riga, in the possession of whose family it remained until 1919. Ramm converted the premises into a Baroque country house. When in 1766 it was struck by lightning and burnt down, the Ramms used the stone to build a Neo-Classical manor house nearby.
The remaining buildings, which were stabilised in the 1930s, are now used as a museum. A comprehensive restoration of the former monastery complex was agreed in 2001.
Château de Falaise is best known as a castle, where William the Conqueror, the son of Duke Robert of Normandy, was born in about 1028. William went on to conquer England and become king and possession of the castle descended through his heirs until the 13th century when it was captured by King Philip II of France. Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840 it has been protected as a monument historique.
The castle (12th–13th century), which overlooks the town from a high crag, was formerly the seat of the Dukes of Normandy. The construction was started on the site of an earlier castle in 1123 by Henry I of England, with the 'large keep' (grand donjon). Later was added the 'small keep' (petit donjon). The tower built in the first quarter of the 12th century contained a hall, chapel, and a room for the lord, but no small rooms for a complicated household arrangement; in this way, it was similar to towers at Corfe, Norwich, and Portchester, all in England. In 1202 Arthur I, Duke of Brittany was King John of England's nephew, was imprisoned in Falaise castle's keep. According to contemporaneous chronicler Ralph of Coggeshall, John ordered two of his servants to mutilate the duke. Hugh de Burgh was in charge of guarding Arthur and refused to let him be mutilated, but to demoralise Arthur's supporters was to announce his death. The circumstances of Arthur's death are unclear, though he probably died in 1203.
In about 1207, after having conquered Normandy, Philip II Augustus ordered the building of a new cylindrical keep. It was later named the Talbot Tower (Tour Talbot) after the English commander responsible for its repair during the Hundred Years' War. It is a tall round tower, similar design to the towers built at Gisors and the medieval Louvre.Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840, Château de Falaise has been recognised as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.
A programme of restoration was carried out between 1870 and 1874. The castle suffered due to bombardment during the Second World War in the battle for the Falaise pocket in 1944, but the three keeps were unscathed.