Solberga Abbey was a Cistercian nunnery in operation from 1246 until at least 1469. It was located outside Visby on Gotland until 1404, and then in Visby. It was the only nunnery ot the island of Gotland.
Solberga Abbey was likely a daughter convent of Vreta Abbey. On 12 August 1246, Bishop Laurentius of Linköping mentions that the first nuns had been sent to Gotland, were Solberga was the only nunnery on the island. In contrast to what was previously believed, Solberga was a large convent with many members. It had both an abbess and a prioress. In 1361, many fallen from the Battle of Visby was buried on the abbey's land, were a cross, which still stands, was erected.
The abbey was presumably destroyed by the war between the Victual Brothers, the Teutonic Knights and the forces of the Kalmar Union in 1398-1403. In 1404, the abbess applied for help from the Master of the Teutonic Knights in Prussia, then in control of Gotland, to found a new abbey. The nuns were allowed to reside in the St. Jacob chapel in Visby, where they lived until they moved in to St. Gertrud chapel in Visby in 1469, then described as the diminished nuns of Visby. During the 15th century, the nuns were still, event though no longer in residence at Solberga, referred to as the Solberga nuns.References:
The moated castle at Beersel is one of the few exceptionally well-preserved examples of medieval fortifications in Belgium. It remains pretty much as it must have appeared in the 15th century. Remarkably, it was never converted into a fortified mansion. A visitor is able to experience at first-hand how it must have felt to live in a heavily fortified castle in the Middle Ages.
The castle was built in around 1420 as a means of defence on the outer reaches of Brussels. The tall, dense walls and towers were intended to hold any besiegers at bay. The moat and the marshy ground along its eastern, southern and western edges made any attack a formidable proposition. For that reason, any attackers would have chosen its weaker northern defences where the castle adjoins higher lying ground. But the castle was only taken and destroyed on one occasion in 1489, by the inhabitants of Brussels who were in rebellion against Maximilian of Austria.
After being stormed and plundered by the rebels it was partially rebuilt. The pointed roofs and stepped gables are features which have survived this period. The reconstruction explains why two periods can be identified in the fabric of the edifice, particularly on the outside.
The red Brabant sandstone surrounds of the embrasures, now more or less all bricked up, are characteristic of the 15th century. The other embrasures, edged with white sandstone, date from the end of the 15th century. They were intended for setting up the artillery fire. The merlons too are in white sandstone. The year 1617 can be clearly seen in the foundation support on the first tower. This refers to restorations carried out at the time by the Arenberg family.
Nowadays, the castle is dominated by three massive towers. The means of defence follow the classic pattern: a wide, deep moat surrounding the castle, a drawbridge, merlons on the towers, embrasures in the walls and in the towers, at more or less regular intervals, and machiolations. Circular, projecting towers ensured that attacks from the side could be thwarted. If the enemy were to penetrate the outer wall, each tower could be defended from embrasures facing onto the inner courtyard.
The second and third towers are flanked by watchtowers from which shots could be fired directly below. Between the second and third tower are two openings in the walkway on the wall. It is not clear what these were used for. Were these holes used for the disposing of rubbish, or escape routes. The windows on the exterior are narrow and low. All light entering comes from the interior. The few larger windows on the exterior date from a later period. It is most probable that the third tower - the highest - was used as a watchtower.