The remains of the former Abbey of Notre-Dame de Clairefontaine are near Clairefontaine, a Belgian hamlet belonging to the city of Arlon. The valley has been inhabited since Roman times and castle Bardenbourg, in which amongst others Countess Ermesinde resided, saw several important personalities of its time. These included Pope Eugene III, who stopped there in 1147 with a group of 18 Cardinals on a trip from Rheims to Trier. The Pope's entourage included Bernard de Fontaine, who became a Saint. It was said that he had been told that someone in the lord of Bardenbourg's family was very ill. Thereupon he got water from a spring not far from the castle, and blessed the sick person with this water. The latter made a miraculous recovery, and this is said to be the origin of the name Clairefontaine. The water is still said to have healing properties.
About a hundred years later, Ermesinde had a vision, apparently seeing the Virgin Mary, and had the Cistercian abbey built here. As the Countess died in February 1247, it was her son Henry V the Blond who constructed the Abbey. It was first mentioned in records in 1250.
The Abbey was destroyed by French revolutionaries. This may be because the inhabitants of surrounding areas used the stones of the Abbey to build their houses.
Around 1875 the Jesuits of Arlon built a new chapel on the place of the old Abbey.References:
The Castle of Gruyères is one of the most famous in Switzerland. It was built between 1270 and 1282, following the typical square plan of the fortifications in Savoy. It was the property of the Counts of Gruyères until the bankruptcy of the Count Michel in 1554. His creditors the cantons of Fribourg and Bern shared his earldom. From 1555 to 1798 the castle became residence to the bailiffs and then to the prefects sent by Fribourg.
In 1849 the castle was sold to the Bovy and Balland families, who used the castle as their summer residency and restored it. The castle was then bought back by the canton of Fribourg in 1938, made into a museum and opened to the public. Since 1993, a foundation ensures the conservation as well as the highlighting of the building and the art collection.
The castle is the home of three capes of the Order of the Golden Fleece. They were part of the war booty captured by the Swiss Confederates (which included troops from Gruyères) at the Battle of Morat against Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in 1476. As Charles the Bold was celebrating the anniversary of his father's death, one of the capes is a black velvet sacerdotal vestment with Philip the Good's emblem sewn into it.
A collection of landscapes by 19th century artists Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Barthélemy Menn and others are on display in the castle.