Bentomiz Castle is an ancient Moorish fortress built on a hill near the village of Arenas in the province of Málaga. It sits at a height of 711 metres, and lies to the northeast of Vélez-Málaga.
The castle site is thought to have been occupied by the Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans, although it is not clear which parts of the ruins date to which period. Roman baths have been found there. The Arabs built on the existing structure. The fortress, then called Munt Mās, was mentioned in the memoirs of Abdallah ibn Buluggin, ruler of the Taifa of Granada in the eleventh century. He described it as a formidable stronghold. The fortress surrendered to him during a civil war that he fought with his brother.
When Ferdinand II of Aragon reached the area en route to Vélez-Málaga, in the campaign that culminated in the Siege of Málaga (1487), the Granadan Sultan El Zagal brought a force to oppose them which he stationed around the Bentomiz castle. The Moors attacked the Christian siege train during the night of 25 April 1487 but were repulsed, and in panic retreated towards Granada. The castle was taken over by the Catholic Monarchs in 1487 and maintained as a defensive post. The castle is now ruined, but there are still towers, walls and underground chambers.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).