StiÄna Abbey is the oldest monastery in the territory of today's Slovenia. It is the only Cistercian one in the country that still operates. The abbey foundation charter was issued in 1136 by Pellegrinus I., Patriarch of Aquileia, although monastic conventual life had begun a year earlier, in 1135. The monastery at StiÄna quickly became important religious, cultural and economic centre.
As well as an ordinary school, the monastery had a music school as well, at which the Renaissance composer Jacobus Gallus is believed to have received his earliest musical education. The successful life of the monastery was hampered by the raids of the Ottoman Turks, and it twice fell victim to burning and looting. In 1784 Emperor Joseph II abolished the monastery, dissolved under the Josephine Reforms, but resettled again in 1898 by monks from Mehrerau Abbey on the shore of lake Constance. StiÄna abbey works undisturbed since.
Its scriptorium was already producing beautiful illuminated Latin manuscripts in the 12th century, and it was here that the famous StiÄna manuscript, written in Slovene, was produced in the 15th century.
In terms of architecture, abbey changed its image, so we can observe traces and shapes of romanic, gothic in baroque buildings, the eldest core of the abbey stayed preserved. Abbey has a Basilica, named after the Sad Mother of God, which serves as a parish church. Abbey and Romanesque basilica are now declared as cultural monuments of national significance.References:
The Château d'Olhain is probably the most famous castle of the Artois region. It is located in the middle of a lake which reflects its picturesque towers and curtain walls. It was also a major stronghold for the Artois in medieval times and testimony to the power of the Olhain family, first mentioned from the 12th century.
The existence of the castle was known early in the 13th century, but the present construction is largely the work of Jean de Nielles, who married Marie d’Olhain at the end of the 15th century.
The marriage of Alix Nielles to Jean de Berghes, Grand Veneur de France (master of hounds) to the King, meant the castle passed to this family, who kept it for more than 450 years. Once confiscated by Charles Quint, it suffered during the wars that ravaged the Artois. Besieged in 1641 by the French, it was partly demolished by the Spaniards in 1654, and finally blown-up and taken by the Dutch in 1710. Restored in 1830, it was abandoned after 1870, and sold by the last Prince of Berghes in 1900. There is also evidence that one of the castles occupants was related to Charles de Batz-Castelmore d'Artagnan, the person Alexandre Dumas based his Three Musketeers charictor d'Artagnan on.
During the World War I and World War II, the castle was requisitioned first by French troops, then Canadian and British soldiers. The current owner has restored the castle to its former glory.