The Castle of Cabra was raised, within the walled enclosure in the North West of the present town, on a spot high enough to overlook the whole town. It is said that it had a central square surrounded by a strong wall with eighteen towers where eight or ten thousand men could march. At present, most of what remains, it is enclosed within the constructions of the present School of the Escolapias. Among the constructions we have been able to locate the wall, of which something more than half still remains and to track the rest until we were able to determine, quite accurately, the plant of the enclosure which must have been quadrangular, of about 76x47m. The thickness of the walls is about two meters and sixty centimetres, approximately. The fact that the rest of the walls- and possibly of towers are surrounded by modern constructions hinders their thorough study.
As far as the towers are concerned, we can say that two of them are well known, plus the location of other two, that were to the sides of the present front door to the enclosure. In the centre of the East wall and half way out is the tower of Homage. It is almost square shaped and it is more than twenty meters high. At about eleven meter above ground level there is a squared chamber with an eight sided vault ceiling with tubes in the angles. The other tower is located in the northwest angle. It is of squared plant, with the angle that looks to the interior of the chamfered enclosure. The lower part is massive and in the upper part there is a chamber with a barrel vault. It still keeps about ten meters of its height and its maximum surface on the plant is 6.5×6.3m.
Of the other two acknowledged towers there only remain their foundations upon which modern constructions have risen.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).