Mentioned for the first time in 1018, the St. Mary's Church, owned by the bishops of Elne, was acquired by count Wilfred II of Cerdanya, who made their capital in the town, in 1025. In 1094 count William I ordered the construction of a monastery here, which was founded in 1097 and entrusted to the Augustinians.
Until 1167, the priory acquired numerous privileges and possessions, including castles and villages. In 1356 King Peter III of Aragon ceded to the monks the old palace of the counts.
In the 14th century the church was fortified with a line of walls featuring pyramidal merlons. The priory continued to increase in importance until its secularization in 1592. After the French Revolution in 1789 it was repeatedly modified.
The church, in Romanesque style, has a façade in pink marble, surmounted by a tympanum decorated by a Madonna enthroned with Child and Angels. The columns supporting the archivolts have capitals with rampaging lions, palms and sheep. The circular apse features exteriorly Lombard bands and a sawtooth-shaped frieze, as well as three windows with archivolts over small columns.
The interior is on a nave and two aisles. It houses a retablo by Jaume Cascalls (1345). The bell tower is in Lombard Romanesque style; it has Lombard bands decorating each of the three storey, the middle one having two windows and the upper one a large arch.References:
Château de Falaise is best known as a castle, where William the Conqueror, the son of Duke Robert of Normandy, was born in about 1028. William went on to conquer England and become king and possession of the castle descended through his heirs until the 13th century when it was captured by King Philip II of France. Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840 it has been protected as a monument historique.
The castle (12th–13th century), which overlooks the town from a high crag, was formerly the seat of the Dukes of Normandy. The construction was started on the site of an earlier castle in 1123 by Henry I of England, with the 'large keep' (grand donjon). Later was added the 'small keep' (petit donjon). The tower built in the first quarter of the 12th century contained a hall, chapel, and a room for the lord, but no small rooms for a complicated household arrangement; in this way, it was similar to towers at Corfe, Norwich, and Portchester, all in England. In 1202 Arthur I, Duke of Brittany was King John of England's nephew, was imprisoned in Falaise castle's keep. According to contemporaneous chronicler Ralph of Coggeshall, John ordered two of his servants to mutilate the duke. Hugh de Burgh was in charge of guarding Arthur and refused to let him be mutilated, but to demoralise Arthur's supporters was to announce his death. The circumstances of Arthur's death are unclear, though he probably died in 1203.
In about 1207, after having conquered Normandy, Philip II Augustus ordered the building of a new cylindrical keep. It was later named the Talbot Tower (Tour Talbot) after the English commander responsible for its repair during the Hundred Years' War. It is a tall round tower, similar design to the towers built at Gisors and the medieval Louvre.Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840, Château de Falaise has been recognised as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.
A programme of restoration was carried out between 1870 and 1874. The castle suffered due to bombardment during the Second World War in the battle for the Falaise pocket in 1944, but the three keeps were unscathed.