Santo Stefano church is one of the most outstanding examples of Romanesque architecture in Genoa. It was founded in the Middle Ages as part of an abbey, in the place where previously a 6th-century small church, entitled to St. Michael Archangel, was located. The most ancient document mentioning Santo Stefano dates from 965, although some scholars attribute its foundation in 972 to the then bishop of Genoa, Theodulf, who rebuilt it after a Saracen inroad.
It became a parish only eventually, in an unknown date, anyway after 1054. The abbey was held by the Benedictine order of Columbanian monks of Bobbio from 972 to 1431, when Pope Boniface IX turned it into a commenda under Cardinal Ludovico Fieschi. In 1497 a chapel with a marble choir was added to the church. In 1535 the monastery was demolished, replaced by another in the mid-17th century. The abbey was cared by the Olivetans from 1529 until 1776.
Santo Stefano is on a single nave, with a superelevated presbytery. Under the latter is the crypt, which would be the original nucleus of the church of St Michael Archangel. The dome is now in brickwork; it was rebuilt in the 14th century by abbot Niccolò Fieschi, and is octagonal in shape. The lower section of the bell tower is of uncertain dating, but is commonly deemed to be antecedent to the current church, and that it was probably used as a defensive structure.
The old church was to be replaced by a new Neo-Romanesque style edifice from the 19th century. The latter was however almost destroyed by Allied bombings during World War II.References:
The Castle of Gruyères is one of the most famous in Switzerland. It was built between 1270 and 1282, following the typical square plan of the fortifications in Savoy. It was the property of the Counts of Gruyères until the bankruptcy of the Count Michel in 1554. His creditors the cantons of Fribourg and Bern shared his earldom. From 1555 to 1798 the castle became residence to the bailiffs and then to the prefects sent by Fribourg.
In 1849 the castle was sold to the Bovy and Balland families, who used the castle as their summer residency and restored it. The castle was then bought back by the canton of Fribourg in 1938, made into a museum and opened to the public. Since 1993, a foundation ensures the conservation as well as the highlighting of the building and the art collection.
The castle is the home of three capes of the Order of the Golden Fleece. They were part of the war booty captured by the Swiss Confederates (which included troops from Gruyères) at the Battle of Morat against Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in 1476. As Charles the Bold was celebrating the anniversary of his father's death, one of the capes is a black velvet sacerdotal vestment with Philip the Good's emblem sewn into it.
A collection of landscapes by 19th century artists Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Barthélemy Menn and others are on display in the castle.