Sorde – an abbey in France that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Sorde Abbey (fr. Abbaye de Sorde) is located in a small village of the same name (Sorde-l’Abbaye), located at the intersection of Landes and the Basque Country. It was built in the eleventh century, on the banks of the Gave d’Orlon.
The abbey consists of three architectural objects:
– The Abbey Church (L’abbatiale Saint Jean-Baptiste de Sorde), built in the “Latin cross” (croix latine) shape at the end of the 11th century. At first, it served as a worship place for monks and then opened for parishioners. Its architectural peculiarity lies in the fact that it combines both the original Romanesque style and the Gothic style with seventeenth and nineteenth-century elements. This is due to the many restorations and transformations that the abbey had to undergo over the centuries. The main sights are a mosaic, (several panels are from the 11th century) and an abbey model made by one of the villagers. The church is open to the public.
– The Abbey Villa (the house of the abbot himself, the refectory, the cellar, salon, lobby and terrace) is a residential complex that is the result of several stages of its evolution. The villa is sometimes open to the public in accordance with the Landes Department program.
– Thermal baths (balneum in French). Restoration work is currently underway. Visiting is also possible.
A community of Benedictine monks founded Sorde Abbey in the 10th century on the Gallo-Roman villa’s (4th and 5th centuries) ruins in Sorde. This is evidenced by the donation of Guillaume Sanche, the Duke of Gascogne dated 975. The war against the Viscounts of Dax and Bearn destroyed the abbey in 1060.
However, the abbey was restored from the Middle Ages, and a prosperity period began, which was again replaced by a period of numerous devastations. In particular, the Earl of Orange (comte d’Oranje) besieged the abbey in 1523, and Montgomery troops besieged it again in 1570.