Jouarre Abbey was traditionally founded around 630 AD by the Abbess Theodochilde or Telchilde. She was inspired by the visit of St. Columban, the travelling Irish monk who inspired monastic institution-building in the early seventh century. As part of its Celtic heritage, Jouarre was established as a double community of monks as well as nuns, both under the rule of the abbess, who in 1225 was granted immunity from interference by the bishop of Meaux, answering only to the pope.
The Merovingian (pre-Romanesque) crypt beneath the Romanesque abbey church contains a number of burials in sarcophagi, notably that of Theodochilde's brother, Agilbert (died 680), carved with a tableau of the Last Judgment and Christ in Majesty, highlights of pre-Romanesque sculpture. In the mid-ninth century the abbey acquired relics of St. Potentian; the relics assembled at Jouarre attracted pilgrims. The reputation of the house stood so high the abbey received a visit from Pope Innocent II in 1131 and was able to house a synod in 1133. The abbess's submission to the bishop of Meaux did not come about until Bossuet held the post in 1690.
The abbey is an important pilgrimage center. A fortified town was built around it and gave birth to the present city of Jouarre.
At the time of the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre (1572), the abbess Charlotte of Bourbon (1547–1582) converted to Protestantism and escaped from the abbey in a cart of hay, and fled to Germany. She married William I of Orange-Nassau.
The present monastery buildings, once again occupied by Benedictine nuns, date from the eighteenth century; their traditional vegetable and fruit garden are notable.References:
The city walls of Avila were built in the 11th century to protect the citizens from the Moors. They have been well maintained throughout the centuries and are now a major tourist attraction as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can walk around about half of the length of the walls.
The layout of the city is an even quadrilateral with a perimeter of 2,516 m. Its walls, which consist in part of stones already used in earlier constructions, have an average thickness of 3 m. Access to the city is afforded by nine gates of different periods; twin 20 m high towers, linked by a semi-circular arch, flank the oldest ones, Puerta de San Vicente and Puerta del Alcázar.