The Villelongue Cistercian monastery was first established on the lands of the neighbouring county of Saissac, before being transferred to its present location, around the 12th century: a donation was granted in 1149 to the Cistercian Order, and to Guillaume, a monk who came, with 12 companions, from the abbey of Bonnefont de Comminges. Construction of the monastery began in 1180.
At the beginning of the 13th century, Simon de Montfort rewarded the monks of the Abbey of Villelongue for taking position against the Cathars: he gave them much land as well as the village of Saint-Martin. Villelongue then became a very rich and powerful abbey. Later on, the abbey profited from the King of France's protection.
Weakened by the plague during the 14th Century, then by internal wars during the 15th century, the abbey slowly declined until the French Revolution when it was sold as state property and transformed into a farming property. The domain was thus divided into 2 parts: on one side, the abbey's ruins and on the other, a group of dwellings, in what had probably been the residential area of the former abbey.
Since 1916, the successive owners have tried to bring the abbey back to life and started the most urgent restoration. Colonel Maissiat, in 1916, managed to have the abbey listed as an Historic Monument, thus saving it from being sold and preventing the demolition of the southern gallery of the cloister.
In 1964, the abbey was acquired by the Eloffe family, who are still the owners today.References:
Roman Walls of Lugo are an exceptional architectural, archaeological and constructive legacy of Roman engineering, dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. The Walls are built of internal and external stone facings of slate with some granite, with a core filling of a conglomerate of slate slabs and worked stone pieces from Roman buildings, interlocked with lime mortar.
Their total length of 2117 m in the shape of an oblong rectangle occupies an area of 1.68 ha. Their height varies between 8 and 10 m, with a width of 4.2 m, reaching 7 m in some specific points. The walls still contain 85 external towers, 10 gates (five of which are original and five that were opened in modern times), four staircases and two ramps providing access to the walkway along the top of the walls, one of which is internal and the other external. Each tower contained access stairs leading from the intervallum to the wall walk of town wall, of which a total of 21 have been discovered to date.
The defences of Lugo are the most complete and best preserved example of Roman military architecture in the Western Roman Empire.
Despite the renovation work carried out, the walls conserve their original layout and the construction features associated with their defensive purpose, with walls, battlements, towers, fortifications, both modern and original gates and stairways, and a moat.
Since they were built, the walls have defined the layout and growth of the city, which was declared a Historical-Artistic Ensemble in 1973, forming a part of it and becoming an emblematic structure that can be freely accessed to walk along. The local inhabitants and visitors alike have used them as an area for enjoyment and as a part of urban life for centuries.
The fortifications were added to UNESCO"s World Heritage List in late 2000 and are a popular tourist attraction.