The town of Almodovar del Rio played an extremely important role in the Middle Ages owing to its strategic location on a hill around 252 metres high next to the Guadalquivir river, which at that time was navigable for small vessels. The traces of multiple cultures, amongst which are Islam and Christianity, can be evidenced in the architectural style of this unique building. In the year 756, this fortress became the estate of the Moorish Prince Al’delMalik Ben Qatan and from 758 onwards it passed into the hands of the Emirate of Cordoba in the reign of Abderraman I.
During the 10th century it was tied entirely to the Caliphate of Cordoba, going on to belong in the 10th and 12th centuries to the Taifa of Carmona, subsequently to the Taifa of Sevilla and finally to the Almohad Empire.
The Moorish King Abed Mohammed de Baeza would later die at the gates of the Castle during the 13th century in 1226, the year in which the fort fell into Christian hands having been handed over to Fernando III ‘The Saint’. Henceforth, the castle would go on to be subjected to successive extensions initiated by the Castilian Kings D. Pedro I of Castile and Enrique II of Trastamara. Meanwhile, Alfonso XI ‘The Just’ and Pedro I ‘The Cruel’ would also end up getting involved in these extensions.
The castle has played host to myriad events over the course of its history. Figures such as Doña Juana de Lara (wife of Prince Don Tello, stepbrother of King Pedro I) have been imprisoned within its walls, it has housed the treasures of Castile and its dungeons have been impenetrable witnesses to the agony of illustrious prisoners such as the 1st Duke of Benavente. Amongst other to have figured in its history are governors Don Alfonso Diaz de Vargas, Diego Fernandez de Cordova and Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordova.
Al-Mudawar Al-Adna went on to be called Almodovar del Rio, in reference to the municipality in the province of Cordoba which is home to one of the most magnificent and best kept castles in Spain.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).