Keizersberg Abbey, also known as Mont César Abbey is a Benedictine monastery. The Keizersberg (Caesar's or Emperor's hill) was the site of the castle around which the city of Leuven grew up, and which local legend connected with Julius Caesar. The castle was demolished in 1782 by order of Emperor Joseph II. On the east side of the same hill a commandery of the Knights Templars was built in 1187, which when the order was abolished came to the Knights Hospitallers in 1312. This was secularised by the French in 1798, when the church and larger buildings were demolished.
A Benedictine house of studies was established in Leuven in 1888 by nine monks from Maredsous Abbey, and land was acquired on the present site in the following year for the construction of a larger establishment, in which the remains of the old commandery were incorporated. The first major conventual block, the north wing, was completed in 1897. The abbey was formally founded on 13 April 1899 as part of the Beuron Congregation, under the first abbot, Dom Robertus de Kerchove.
In 1914 the buildings were severely damaged by fire, and the monks took refuge in another Beuronese house, Maria Laach Abbey in the Rhineland, until after the end of the war, when reconstruction was possible. The abbey again suffered damage in World War II with the bombing of the buildings during air raids on Leuven in 1944, which among other things destroyed the last remains of the older buildings from the time of the Hospitallers, and the monastery was temporarily uninhabitable. By 1948 it was sufficiently restored to be able to set up a small community at Wavreumont in Stavelot, which was formally established as St. Remaclus' Priory on 21 June 1952.
When the French section of the Catholic University of Leuven was moved out of Leuven it was decided that the abbey should become a Flemish institution, whence the change from Mont César to Keizersberg. On 10 June 1968 the abbey was transferred to the Flemish Province of the Subiaco Congregation. The abbot and prior resigned in the same year, and a temporary administrator was appointed.
In 1969 part of the renovated abbey was converted for use as student accommodation, and is still used for that purpose.References:
Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.
Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.
The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.