The Katskhi Monastery of Nativity of the Savior was built at the behest of the Baguashi family in the period of 988–1014. The church building is noted for a hexagonal design and rich ornamentation. Closed down by the Soviet government in 1924, the monastery was revived in 1990 and is now operated by the Eparchy of Sachkhere and Chiatura of the Georgian Orthodox Church.
The Katskhi monastery is a octagonal building of more complex design than other similar polygonal Georgian monuments. The exterior of the church features three gradually narrowing cylindrical levels formed by the faceted gallery, the main body of the church, and the drum of the dome.
The six apses are inscribed into the outer polyhedron and surrounded by an ambulatory from all sides. A single spacious interior compartment around the subdome bay includes radially oriented semi-circular apses. One of these, the altar apse, projects outward prominently due to its large bema. The drum of the dome is also faceted. Each facet of the main body of the church as well as that of the dome and gallery terminate in a pediment with three lines of polygonal cornices.
The building was richly ornated, but the decoration of two upper tiers was lost in the process of the 1854 restoration. Of note is a large composition in relief at the southern vestibule of the gallery, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, featuring a cross supported by four angels.
The church is surrounded by a pentagonal wall, which contains a free-standing bell tower in its eastern corner. These structures are later additions, probably from the 17th or 18th century.
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).