Maredsous Abbey was founded in 1872 by Beuron Abbey in Germany. The foundation was supported financially by the Desclée family, who paid for the design and construction of the spectacular buildings, which are the masterwork of the architect Jean-Baptiste de Béthune (1831–1894), leader of the neo-gothic style in Belgium. The overall plan is based on the 13th century Cistercian abbey of Villers at Villers-la-Ville in Walloon Brabant. The frescos however were undertaken by the art school of the mother-house at Beuron, much against the will of Béthune and Desclée, who dismissed the Beuron style as 'Assyrian-Bavarian'. Construction was finished in 1892.
Maredsous Abbey is also known for the production of Maredsous cheese. It is a loaf-shaped cheese made from cow's milk. The cheese is lightly pressed, then washed in brine to create the firm, orange crust and pungent aroma. The abbey also licenses its name to Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat, since 1963 the makers of Maredsous beer.References:
The eight towns in south-eastern Sicily, including Ragusa, were all rebuilt after 1693 on or beside towns existing at the time of the earthquake which took place in that year. They represent a considerable collective undertaking, successfully carried out at a high level of architectural and artistic achievement. Keeping within the late Baroque style of the day, they also depict distinctive innovations in town planning and urban building. Together with seven other cities in the Val di Noto, it is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In 1693 Ragusa was devastated by a huge earthquake, which killed some 5,000 inhabitants. Following this catastrophe the city was largely rebuilt, and many Baroque buildings from this time remain in the city. Most of the population moved to a new settlement in the former district of Patro, calling this new municipality 'Ragusa Superiore' (Upper Ragusa) and the ancient city 'Ragusa Inferiore' (Lower Ragusa). The two cities remained separated until 1926, when they were fused together to become a provincial capital in 1927.