Medieval Mont Saint Michel
Le Mont Saint Michel
Europe is brimming with castles and cathedrals. Almost every town is going to have either a castle or a cathedral, or both. But how many of those are on an ‘island’ only accessible during certain hours per day? Not a lot. One of the most famous sites in France (and possibly Europe) is an abbey located on the top of this island. This is the beautiful Mont Saint Michel.
Situated on an island within Mont Saint Michel Bay, the abbey’s exclusivity is accentuated during fixed hours due to the high tide. The island is only accessible by one road. The road becomes covered by water during certain parts of the day depending on the season. Therefore, careful planning is needed when visiting le Mont Saint Michel.
This location was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. Mont Saint Michel is now also considered one of the “Wonders of the Western World”. The abbey has an extensive history, and attracts 2.5 million visitors per year!
In the year 709, Aubert, Bishop of Avranches, was called upon by the Archangel Michel to build a church. A community of Benedictines settled on the rock in year 966 when the Romanesque church was built shortly after. During the next several centuries the church faced reconstructions and additions, including military constructions for it to survive the Hundred Years War in the 14th century.
The monastery was known to be an intellectual and spiritual center making it one of the most important places of pilgrimage during the Medieval Ages. Mont Saint Michel attracted all kinds of people searching for the “assurance of eternity, given by the Archangel of Judgement, weighing in on souls”. However, during the French Revolution, the abbey was turned into a prison and later had to be reconstructed once again.
In the year 1966, with the celebration of the monastic’s 1000th anniversary, a religious community moved back to what used to be the dwellings of the abbey. They welcomed the original operation of the place. Since 2001, monks and nuns have been ensuring its spiritual presence.
Not only is the abbey located on the rock of Mont Saint Michel, but a small village has grown there over the centuries as well. Religious practices are still custom here, but the monastery welcomes visitors and pilgrims. The tiny village has small hotels, restaurants and shops located throughout.
It was a beautiful day trip and Mont Saint Michel isn’t a place to miss if you are in Normandy, France. It is easy to visit the entire island in just a few hours. Even in the winter months it’s a stunning sight, and much more quiet. Tell me – have you heard of Mont Saint Michel?
♦History provided by the official Le Mont Saint Michel website: