Motovun (Montona) is a medieval town that grew up on the site of an ancient city called Castellieri. It is situated on a hill 270 metres above sea level with houses scattered all over the hill. On the inner walls are several coats-of-arms of different Motovun ruling families and two gravestones of Roman inhabitants (dating from the 1st century).
In the 10th and 11th centuries it belonged to the Bishop of Parenzo/Poreč. From 1278 it was taken over by Venice and surrounded by solid walls which are still intact today, and used as a walkway with unique views over the four corners of Istria. All three parts of the town are connected by a system of internal and external fortifications with towers and city gates containing elements of Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance styles, built between the 14th and 17th centuries. It is a typical example of Venetian colonial architecture.
The late-Renaissance church of St. Stephen was built right at the beginning of the 17th century according to sketches probably designed by the well-known Venetian architect Andrea Palladio (1508–1580). The church contains several works of art: the marble statues of St. Stephen and St. Laurence by Francesco Bonazzo and the 17th-century painting of the Last Supper over the altar by an unknown Venetian artist. The water cisterns in the square in front of the church date from the 14th and 15th centuries.
Motovun is one of the most visited places in Croatia. It offers a view over the hills and vineyards with a tradition of very good wine and food.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).