Marcevol Priory is situated at an altitude of 500 metres on a plateau overlooking the Tet Valley. The Priory was built in the 12th century by the religious order of Saint Sepulchre. In 1129 the Bishop of Elne donated them the small church, as well as some surrounding out-buildings. These were monks following the rules of Saint Augustine. The Order of Saint Sepulchre was founded in 1099 after the crusades and the conquest of Jerusalem; its mission was to watch over Christ’s tomb. The Order quickly spread throughout Europe, and received possessions and donations. Marcevol was one of its communities from 1129 to 1484, the year the Pope ordered its dissolution.
In 1484 the building came under the aegis of a community of priests in the parish of Vinça. It was at this time that an altarpiece dedicated to the Virgin was installed in the apse. The community also attached itself to the pardons of the Virgin organisation. This was an old tradition associated with the mother of a Pope travelling to Compostella. She was later buried in the parish church. Marcevol thus became a place of pilgrimage, attracting hundreds of pilgrims hoping to obtain Grace and Indulgence. It is the most important pilgrimage in the Conflent, and every 3rd May a mass is celebrated in Marcevol.
During the French Revolution, the Priory was sold as a National Property; it became the centre of a large agricultural exploitation. The buildings suffered from lack of repair. Then in the 1970’s, to prevent further decay and ruin, the Association de Monastir de Marcevols started doing voluntary building work. They made the Priory into a centre for people with spiritual, artistic and therapeutic callings. In 2001 the association became the ‘Fondation du Prieurie de Marcevol’. It is recognised as a public utility, and continues its public vocation by offering accommodation for groups and school trips, and other cultural activities.
The priory has a remarkable pink marble façade.References:
Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.
Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.