The Abbey Saint-Michel is intimately tied to the origins of Gaillac, a silent witness to the town’s long history.
In 972 AD the Bishop of Albi handed some land to a group of Benedictine monks, instructing them to found an abbey there. These monks also set about the business of winegrowing – with great success, it must be said – which contributed to Gaillac’s economic development and to the town’s burgeoning reputation both in France and further afield across Europe.
Gaillac managed to avoid destruction at the hands of the Albi Crusaders. But the town was not entirely spared by the 100 Years War, or the French Religious Wars. It was the wine trade that brought about Gaillac’s regeneration. The abbey was rebuilt in the 16th and 17th centuries before the French Revolution of 1789 finally sounded the death knell for its role as a religious building.
The Abbey Saint-Michel is open to visitors every day. If you want an amazing view of the Abbey rising up from the River Tarn, just take a short walk onto the Saint-Michel bridge and look back. The red brick and ochre tones of the building are symbolic of the town of Gaillac, and they blend beautifully with the colours of the sunset. In its vaulted cellars that were once used to store wine barrels, the museum retraces the history and traditions of Gaillac, its wines and vineyards, and its Abbey from Gallo-Roman times to the current day.References:
The first historical record of Lednice locality dates from 1222. At that time there stood a Gothic fort with courtyard, which was lent by Czech King Václav I to Austrian nobleman Sigfried Sirotek in 1249.
At the end of the 13th century the Liechtensteins, originally from Styria, became holders of all of Lednice and of nearby Mikulov. They gradually acquired land on both sides of the Moravian-Austrian border. Members of the family most often found fame in military service, during the Renaissance they expanded their estates through economic activity. From the middle of the 15th century members of the family occupied the highest offices in the land. However, the family’s position in Moravia really changed under the brothers Karel, Maximilian, and Gundakar of Liechtenstein. Through marriage Karel and Maximilian acquired the great wealth of the old Moravian dynasty of the Černohorskýs of Boskovice. At that time the brothers, like their father and grandfather, were Lutheran, but they soon converted to Catholicism, thus preparing the ground for their rise in politics. Particularly Karel, who served at the court of Emperor Rudolf II, became hetman of Moravia in 1608, and was later raised to princely status by King Matyas II and awarded the Duchy of Opava.
During the revolt of the Czech nobility he stood on the side of the Habsburgs, and took part in the Battle of White Mountain. After the uprising was defeated in 1620 he systematically acquired property confiscated from some of the rebels, and the Liechtensteins became the wealthiest family in Moravia, rising in status above the Žerotíns. Their enormous land holdings brought them great profits, and eventually allowed them to carry out their grandious building projects here in Lednice.
In the 16th century it was probably Hartmann II of Liechtenstein who had the old medieval water castle torn down and replaced with a Renaissance chateau. At the end of the 17th century the chateau was torn down and a Baroque palace was built, with an extensive formal garden, and a massive riding hall designed by Johann Bernard Fischer von Erlach that still stands in almost unaltered form.
In the mid-18th century the chateau was again renovated, and in 1815 its front tracts that had been part of the Baroque chateau were removed.
The chateau as it looks today dates from 1846-1858, when Prince Alois II decided that Vienna was not suitable for entertaining in the summer, and had Lednice rebuilt into a summer palace in the spirit of English Gothic. The hall on the ground floor would serve to entertain the European aristocracy at sumptuous banquets, and was furnished with carved wood ceilings, wooden panelling, and select furniture, surpassing anything of its kind in Europe.