The first documents of Baena Castle date at the beginning of the 9th century (890), during the reign of Emir Ahdullah, whose Governor in Regio since 889 had been Omar Ben Hafsum who rebelled and took Baena in 891.
In 1228, the governor of Fernando III in Baeza attacked the castle, belonging then to Seville. Subsequently the castle was attacked by Mohamed, the king of Granada, 1297. In July 1320 a peace treaty was signed in this castle between the Alonso XI and Ismail, King of Granada, which guaranteed this peace for eight years. In 1332, this same Alfonso XI garrisoned the castle in the face of danger from Granada, and in 1341 he left Baena to attack the Nasrid kingdom, not before providing the fortress with men and materials. In 1362 Abu Said, King of Granada, the Bermejo, took refuge in Baena and was accompanied to Seville by people from Cordoba.
In 1401 the castle was ceded by Henry III to the Marshal, Don Diego Fernández de Córdoba, with the opposition of the inhabitants of the city, taking possession of it in 1438.
Since the 16th century it has been used as the Palacio de los Duques. Diego Fernández de Córdoba, III Conde de Cabra, established his residence in the castle at the beginning of the 16th century and gave it a more palatial character. In 1520 the Baena and Condado de Cabra estate became related by marriage to the Duchy of Sessa. En 1566, by a Royal Decree of Philip II, Baena became the Duchy of Baena whereupon the lords of Baena came to be the Dukes of Sessa and Baena. It is from that time when there began to be a succession of structural changes in the fortified enclosure aimed at making the place suitable as a residence, and the military character of the complex faded into the background.
Baena Castle is square and still has part of its original walls and three of the four towers located in those of: El Secreto, Los Cascabeles and the last one of the Cinco Esquinas or Las Arqueras.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).