Fontfroide Abbey

Narbonne, France

Fontfroide is a former Cistercian monastery in France, situated 15 kilometers south-west of Narbonne. It was founded in 1093 by the Viscount of Narbonne, but remained poor and obscure until in 1144 it affiliated itself to the Cistercian reform movement. Shortly afterwards the Count of Barcelona gave it the land in Spain that was to form the great Catalan monastery of Poblet, of which Fontfroide counts as the mother house, and in 1157 the Viscountess Ermengard of Narbonne granted it a great quantity of land locally, thus securing its wealth and status. The abbey fought together with Pope Innocent III against the heretical doctrine of the Cathars who lived in the region.

The abbey was dissolved in 1791 in the course of the French Revolution. It was re-founded in 1858 by monks from Sénanque Abbey. The community was driven out of France by French legal changes in 1901. The premises, which are of very great architectural interest, passed into private hands in 1908, when the artists Gustave and Madeleine Fayet d'Andoque bought it to protect the fabric of the buildings from an American collector of sculpture. They restored it over a number of years and used it as a centre for artistic projects.

It still remains in private hands. Today wine is produced here under the French appellations system. It also has a small working farm, bookstore and restaurant and takes paying guests.

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Details

Founded: 1093
Category: Religious sites in France
Historical period: Birth of Capetian dynasty (France)

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

john hodge (3 years ago)
A working abbey that produces a range of wines. The grounds are open all year and they are extensive. Allow around 2 hours or more for a good walk to see the stunning scenery in the area. Out of the main holiday season is best. The abbey itself has a web site for to check the best opening hours to suit you. The wine shop is also open all year. Our personal favourite is the chadonnay - but with tasting available you can choose your own. Prices, for a very good wine, are very reasonable. The small range of liqueors is eqally good. There is a pretty good cafe - not always open - again chec web the site. The food is reasonable for what you pay, but nothing to to make it worth a detour.
Pamela Kim Dobbie (3 years ago)
Lovely site a me lovely walks around the grounds. Good for a day out
Seza Mekhdjian (4 years ago)
Absolutely worth a visit. The tablet is a useful guide as you explore and discover the Abbey.
Lucas Herrmann (4 years ago)
We recommend doing a wine tasting here (for free, 30 mins, 3 wines). And then take the self guided tour. The place is outstanding beautiful and for me as a white wine drinker it’s so far the only red wine in southern France that I really enjoyed. The medieval architecture is simply outstanding and beyond words!
Legault C. (4 years ago)
A lovely place, a must see if you are in the area. Went to lunch at the restaurant here, and although the food was lovely, it did take some time, so keep that in mind if you are eating here. In addition, I was here in off season, and still made a reservation for lunch, as it was busy still. But, definitely visit the Abbey if you can, truly beautiful. Make sure to climb to the observatory to see it all.
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Archaeological excavations have revealed that the site of the castle has been inhabited since Neolithic times.

Muslim Era

It has not been determined exactly when a castle or fortress was first built on the hill. The first written documentation referring to a castle at Lorca is of Muslim origin, which in the 9th century, indicates that the city of Lurqa was an important town in the area ruled by Theudimer (Tudmir). During Muslim rule, Lorca Castle was an impregnable fortress and its interior was divided into two sections by the Espaldón Wall. In the western part, there was an area used to protect livestock and grain in times of danger. The eastern part had a neighbourhood called the barrio de Alcalá.

After Reconquista

Lorca was conquered by the Castilian Infante Don Alfonso, the future Alfonso X, in 1244, and the fortress became a key defensive point against the Kingdom of Granada. For 250 years, Lorca Castle was a watchpoint on the border between the Christian kingdom of Murcia and the Muslim state of Granada.

Alfonso X ordered the construction of the towers known as the Alfonsina and Espolón Towers, and strengthened and fixed the walls. Hardly a trace of the Muslim fortress remained due to this reconstruction. Muslim traces remain in the foundation stones and the wall known as the muro del Espaldón.

The Jewish Quarter was found within the alcazaba, the Moorish fortification, separated from the rest of the city by its walls. The physical separation had the purpose of protecting the Jewish people in the town from harm, but also had the result of keeping Christians and Jews separate, with the Christians inhabiting the lower part of town.

The remains of the Jewish Quarter extended over an area of 5,700 square m, and 12 homes and a synagogue have been found; the synagogue dates from the 14th century and is the only one found in the Murcia. The streets of the town had an irregular layout, adapted to the landscape, and is divided into four terraces. The synagogue was in the central location, and around it were the homes. The homes were of rectangular shape, with various compartmentalized rooms. The living quarters were elevated and a common feature was benches attached to the walls, kitchens, stand for earthenware jars, or cupboards.

Modern history

With the disappearance of the frontier after the conquest of Granada in 1492, Lorca Castle no longer became as important as before. With the expulsion of the Jews by order of Ferdinand and Isabella, Lorca Castle was also depopulated as a result. The castle was abandoned completely, and was almost a complete ruin by the 18th century. In the 19th century, the castle was refurbished due to the War of Spanish Independence. The walls and structures were repaired or modified and its medieval look changed. A battery of cannons was installed, for example, during this time. In 1931 Lorca Castle was declared a National Historic Monument.

Currently, a parador (luxury hotel) has been built within the castle. As a result, archaeological discoveries have been found, including the Jewish Quarter.