Sigismund, Archduke of Austria, had this modest castle (Landesfürstliche Burg) built in central location of Meran in the second half of the 15th century. He probably used this fortress behind the town hall as his private city residence. However, this ensemble of buildings rather resembles an artistically designed, solid building with low enclosure than a fully-developed castle. For this reason it is simply often referred to as “residence”.
Up to the 16th century the Prince’s Castle remained a royal residence. In 1516 also Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, resided in the castle. As the building repeatedly changed hands, it started deteriorating in the course of the centuries. In 1875 the city of Merano purchased the building. Between 1878 and 1880 a restoration period followed, based on the drawings of the internationally famous architect Friedrich von Schmidt, who also directed the renovations of the Dome of Vienna. When these renovations came to an end, the castle was opened also for the public. Today it hosts the Prince’s Castle Museum.
Its wood-panelled ancient parlours, tiled stoves, bedrooms and maiden rooms provide an interesting insight into the life in Mediaeval times. The furniture, however, dates back to the Gothic and Renaissance periods. Also some weapons such as lances and halberds have been preserved. Moreover there is a little chapel decorated with frescoes dating back to the 16th century.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).