Tmogvi is a ruined castle on the left bank of the Kura River, a few kilometers downstream of the cave city of Vardzia. It is first mentioned in sources from the 9th century. It was built as a defensive work controlling the ancient trade route between the Javakheti plateau and the gorge of Kura, over a gorge formed by the Kura River. It was a crucial military stronghold in the region of Javakheti. The feudal lords of the region were at that time the Bagratids, the Georgian branch.
Tmogvi gained importance after the neighboring town and fortress of Tsunda was ruined around 900 AD. By the beginning of the 11th century, the fortress had passed under the direct control of the unified Kingdom of Georgia.
In 1073, it was given in apanage to the nobleman Niania Kuabulisdze; his descendants kept it in the following centuries, before it passed to other major feudal families such as the Toreli, the Tmogveli, the Shalikashvilior the Jaqeli. In 1088, the castle collapsed in an earthquake. The medieval Georgian writer Sargis Tmogveli was from Tmogvi. The Ottoman Empire gained control of the fortress in 1578. In 1829, the Treaty of Adrianople transferred the fortress, among with the surrounding region, to the Russian Empire.
The castle expands over 3 hills, joined and encircled by a wall (150 meters long, 3 meters wide), which supplements the natural defense offered by the cliffs. A number of towers was built on each hill. A secret tunnel connects the castle with the river to provide access to water even during a siege. The western part of the fortress is better preserved. A small number of buildings subsist inside the castle itself. A quadrangular building made of tuff on a basalt foundation is assumed to have been a church. Outside of the walls, on the western side, the church of Saint Ephrem subsists in ruined condition, with fragments of frescoes from the 13th 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).