The Abbey of St. Jean des Vignes was a monastery of Augustinian Canons situated in the south western hills of Soissons. Only ruins remain, of which the west front is still one of the most spectacular pieces of architecture in the town.
The abbey was founded on St. John's hill in 1076 by Hughes Le Blanc. Initially built in Romanesque style, the first buildings were replaced at the end of the 12th century by those visible today. The west front was begun in the 12th century, although not finished until the 16th. The refectory and cellar date from the 13th century, parts of the cloisters from the end of the 13th century, while other parts are from the 16th century, as is the abbot's lodging.
When the abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution the premises were put to use for military purposes, and an arsenal was added.
The site was acquired by the town of Soissons in the 1970s and the remaining buildings are now occupied by educational and heritage-related bodies.References:
The city walls of Avila were built in the 11th century to protect the citizens from the Moors. They have been well maintained throughout the centuries and are now a major tourist attraction as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can walk around about half of the length of the walls.
The layout of the city is an even quadrilateral with a perimeter of 2,516 m. Its walls, which consist in part of stones already used in earlier constructions, have an average thickness of 3 m. Access to the city is afforded by nine gates of different periods; twin 20 m high towers, linked by a semi-circular arch, flank the oldest ones, Puerta de San Vicente and Puerta del Alcázar.