Mont Saint Michel, France

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Mont Saint Michel

Mont Saint Michel, France

“Wonder of the West” – a Masterpiece of World Heritage of Mankind – only these words could describe Mont Saint Michel – the most famous Gothic Abbey, situated on a rocky island just 1 mile off the coast of Normandy in the Bay of Mont Saint Michel in Northwest France. It lies 41 miles north of Rennes and 32 miles east of Saint-Malo. Mont Saint Michel was previously connected to the mainland via a thin natural land bridge, which before modernization reconstruction was covered at high tide and revealed at low tide.
The island is now surrounded by water only two times a month. Mont Saint Michel was used in the 6th and 7th centuries as a stronghold of Romano-British culture and power until it was sacked by the Franks; thus ending the trans-channel culture that had stood since the departure of the Romans in 459 AD.

Mont Saint Michel, France Before the construction of the first monastic establishment in the 8th century, the island was called Mont Tombe. Alternately monastery and fortress prison, Mont Saint Michel symbolizes the eternal struggle of good against evil.

One night in October 708, the Archangel Michael appears to Aubert, Bishop of Avranches, and orders him to build a sanctuary on Mount Tomb, Granite Island in the middle of the bay.

In the 10 century, the dukes of Normandy built a new church and in 966 the  Benedictine Monks Order settled in Mont Saint Michel. Under their influence the Romanesque Abbey was built in the eleventh century: the construction lasted  sixty years.
Partly destroyed by fire, it was rebuilt with the help of King Philippe Auguste of France, in the thirteenth century: the construction and others that followed until the late 15 century are evidence of a new architectural style , slimmer, higher and higher into the sky with its towering buttresses and stone lace: the Gothic style was born.

Mont Saint Michel is at its apogee and its spiritual and intellectual influence is huge in the whole Christendom. Kings, princes, dukes, knights of the kingdoms of France and Europe were on a pilgrimage to Mont Saint Michel. In this golden age the decline of the monastery will continue until the French Revolution in 1789 which drives the last monks of the Abbey. It was not until 1969 that a Benedictine community to move back in the Abbey, marking the spiritual rebirth of Mont Saint Michel.
Mont Saint Michel ramparts are a natural stronghold isolated in the middle of the bay and protected by the back-and-fro of the tides. During 14 and 15 century, a remarkable set of defensive military architecture was built with thick walls, towers and bastions.
Mont Saint Michel, France

In the 15 century, during the Hundred Years War between the Kingdom of England Kingdom of France, one hundred and ten knights of Mont Saint Michel added a glorious episode in the history of the Wonder of the West. Their courage, strength of resistance and complicity of the tides, which disrupted the  enemy offensives, brought to the end of the English armies of twenty thousand men and a siege which lasted over thirty years!
This achievement was later exemplified by Joan of Arc in her re-conquest of the Kingdom and in 1467 King Louis XI of France established the Order of Knights of St. Michael as a tribute to the courage of the defenders of Mont Saint Michel. Constantly attacked, never conquered, Mont Saint Michel became a symbol of national resistance and French identity.
In 1472, five years after founding the Knights of St. Michael, King Louis XI returned to Mont-Saint-Michel to drop one of the iron cages where he liked to lock up his political opponents.

Mont Saint Michel, France Until the French Revolution, the political prisoners who had been locked in the iron cage or in the dungeons of the Abbey were essentially pamphleteers and Jansenists.

Then came the Empire of Napoleon 1st, who turned Mont Saint Michel into central prison until its abolition by Napoleon III in 1863.
In these dark years, many French revolutionary leaders such as Barbie, Raspail and Blanqui were imprisoned in the dungeons of Mont Saint Michel.
Victor Hugo and the French Romantic writers of the 19 century denounced the use of the Abbey of Mont Saint Michel.

In 1874, Mont Saint Michel was categorized as the  State Historical Monument, which marked the revival of the Wonder of the West.
In 1897, the architect Petitgrand, a disciple of Viollet-Le-Duc, gave the Mont Saint Michel’s final shape by erecting a neo-Gothic spire at the top of the Abbey. The famous golden statue of the Archangel Saint Michael the sculptor Fremiet, completed the building which now rises up to 188 meters above the waves.

At the end of the 19 century, Mont Saint Michel was connected to the mainland by a causeway. Being more accessible, it opened to tourism.
In 1969 a community of Benedictine monks settled in the Abbey reviving faith in the Wonder of the West.
In 1979 UNESCO classified Mont Saint Michel Masterpiece as a  World Heritage of Humanity.
Mont Saint Michel, France

To climb to the abbey is difficult - by the time you have reached the famous Escalier de Dentelle, you will have climbed no fewer than 900 steps - but it’s worth it.
Halfway up Grande-Rue there is the medieval parish church of St. Pierre, which features a richly carved side chapel with its dramatic statue of St. Michael slaying the dragon.

Mont Saint Michel Abbey, France The Grand Degre, a steep, narrow staircase, leads to the abbey entrance, from which a wider flight of stone steps leads to the Saut Gautier Terrace (named after a prisoner who jumped to his death from here).
After visiting the arcaded cloisters alongside, which offer vertiginous views of the bay, you can wander at leisure, and probably get lost, among the maze of rooms, staircases, and vaulted halls that make up the abbey.
Mont Saint Michel Abbey, France Mont Saint Michel, France

The knight Bertrand du Guesclin distinguished himself during the Hundred Years War in the 15 century. His courage, fighting spirit, his sense of organization and command made him captain in the armie of the kingdom of France. As Bertrand Duguesclin became famous for his bravery on the battlefield of Raguenel Tiphaine, who was an astrologer, read in the stars the fate of the world. A visit to the historic house will show you the quality of life of a knight in the Middle Ages with its furniture, the armor of the knight Bertrand du Guesclin.

Mont Saint Michel, France Mont Saint Michel, France

Faith is the source of Mont Saint Michel, Granite Island in the middle of the sea dedicated to God through the Archangel Michael.
Mont Saint Michel does not only have a cultural, historical and architectural significance, as well as human-created and natural beauty, but it is also magical.

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Map of Mont Saint Michel, France

Mont Saint Michel, France

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