The Abbey of St. Mary of Lagrasse is a Romanesque Benedictine abbey whose origins date to the 7th century. Despite a legend attributing its creation to Charlemagne, the monastic community was founded in the 7th century by the abbot of Narbonne, Nimphridius, who adopted the Benedictine rule. It was elevated to the rank of abbey in 779 and enriched quickly thanks to donation from lords from the neighbourhood and the county of Barcelona, acquiring lands, castles, priories and other assets. During the 12th century it ruled over a large territory encompassing the dioceses of Toulouse and Béziers and the county of Urgell.
It however started to decline during the 13th-15th centuries, when it was reinforced and fortified due to the numerous wars. In the 16th century a bell tower was begun, remaining unfinished after the death of its commissioner, Philippe de Lévis, in 1537. The abbey lived a period of renovation under its second last abbot, Armand Bazin de Bezons, receiving for example a new cloister.
The community of Canons Regular of the Mother of God moved into Lagrasse in 2004. The community, the majority of whom are priests, live in common under the Rule of St. Augustine, and dedicate their lives to the liturgy, which they celebrate in the 1962 extraordinary form of the Roman Rite and to evangelization. Common life, contemplative life, and apostolic life form the three facets of their charism. The canons have begun the massive restoration work necessary to repair the abbey.
The oldest part of the abbey is first abbot house, including a small cloister whose columns' capitals feature scenes of the Luxury. The upper gallery leads to the abbey chapel, dating to the 13th century and with decorated walls.
The Romanesque church was built in the 11th century, with a single nave ending in a presbytery, with a transept and three small apses. There are a new church and a new abbot palace (18th century). Restoration works in the cloister (also from the 18th century) have found remains of an ancient Romanesque portal with a marble sculpted arch, attributed to the Master of Cabestany.
The bell tower has an octagonal plan, with a total height of 40 meters. The monk's dormitory features an ogival vault in timber framework.References:
I love the Monk Dormitory, the arches in the interior is a work of Art.
Craigmillar is one of Scotland’s most perfectly preserved castles. It began as a simple tower-house residence. Gradually, over time, it developed into a complex of structures and spaces, as subsequent owners attempted to improve its comfort and amenity. As a result, there are many nooks and crannies to explore.
The surrounding gardens and parkland were also important. The present-day Craigmillar Castle Park has fascinating reminders of the castle’s days as a rural retreat on the edge of Scotland’s capital city.
At the core lies the original, late-14th-century tower house, among the first of this form of castle built in Scotland. It stands 17m high to the battlements, has walls almost 3m thick, and holds a warren of rooms, including a fine great hall on the first floor.
‘Queen Mary’s Room’, also on the first floor, is where Mary is said to have slept when staying at Craigmillar. However, it is more likely she occupied a multi-roomed apartment elsewhere in the courtyard, probably in the east range.
Sir Simon Preston was a loyal supporter of Queen Mary, whom she appointed as Provost of Edinburgh. In this capacity, he was her host for her first night as a prisoner, at his townhouse in the High Street, on 15 June 1567. She was taken to Lochleven Castle the following day.
The west range was rebuilt after 1660 as a family residence for the Gilmour family.
The 15th-century courtyard wall is well preserved, complete with gunholes shaped like inverted keyholes. Ancillary buildings lie within it, including a private family chapel.