Dargun Abbey was originally a Cistercian monastery, converted after its dissolution into a palace. The monastery was founded here in 1172 on the site of a former heathen temple after the conquest of the region by Christian forces in 1164. The founding community came from Esrum Abbey in Denmark. The monastery was destroyed in 1198, and the monks left, later to found another monastery at Eldena. Dargun was re-established in 1208 by monks from Doberan Abbey, which is therefore counted as its mother house.
It was secularised in 1552 and taken over as a residence by Duke Ulrich I of Mecklenburg-Güstrow in 1556, who converted it into a Renaissance palace, which, after the extinction of the line of Mecklenburg-Güstrow, passed to the Dukes of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.
The monastery was brick-built. The principal building complex was reconstructed in the 14th century. The Gothic abbey church was built between 1225 and 1270, with further work to the choir in 1464. The church is now ruined but parts of the choir, nave and transept remain.
In 1637 the palace burnt down and was rebuilt until 1654. Until the mid-18th century it served as the home of the widows of the princely house of Mecklenburg-Güstrow. It was re-converted in the 19th century under Georg Adolf Demmler, and burnt down at the end of World War II. Little was done to secure the ruins until 1991. From 1994 some reconstruction and repair has taken place. The buildings presently accommodate an information bureau and the town library.References:
Castle Rushen is located in the Isle of Man"s historic capital, Castletown. The castle is amongst the best examples of medieval castles in the British Isles, and is still in use as a court house, museum and educational centre.
The exact date of castle is unknown, although construction is thought to have taken place during the reigns of the late 12th century and early 13th century rulers of the Isle of Man – the Kings of Mann and the Isles. The original Castle Rushen consisted of a central square stone tower, or keep. The site was also fortified to guard the entrance to the Silver Burn. From its early beginnings, the castle was continually developed by successive rulers of Mann between the 13th and 16th century. The limestone walls dominated much of the surrounding landscape, serving as a point of dominance for the various rulers of the Isle of Man. By 1313, the original keep had been reinforced with towers to the west and south. In the 14th century, an east tower, gatehouses, and curtain wall were added.
After several more changes of hands the English and their supporters eventually prevailed. The English king Edward I Longshanks claimed that the island had belonged to the Kings of England for generations and he was merely reasserting their rightful claim to the Isle of Man.
The 18th century saw the castle in steady decay. By the end of the century it was converted into a prison. Even though the castle was in continuous use as a prison, the decline continued until the turn of the 20th century, when it was restored under the oversight of the Lieutenant Governor, George Somerset, 3rd Baron Raglan. Following the restoration work, and the completion of the purpose-built Victoria Road Prison in 1891, the castle was transferred from the British Crown to the Isle of Man Government in 1929.
Today it is run as a museum by Manx National Heritage, depicting the history of the Kings and Lords of Mann. Most rooms are open to the public during the opening season (March to October), and all open rooms have signs telling their stories. The exhibitions include a working medieval kitchen where authentic period food is prepared on special occasions and re-enactments of various aspects of medieval life are held on a regular basis, with particular emphasis on educating the local children about their history. Archaeological finds made during excavations in the 1980s are displayed and used as learning tools for visitors.