Le Mont Saint Michel
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The history of the site goes back to 709 AD when the archangel Michael appeared to Aubert, bishop of Avranches and asked him to build an oratory on the Mont. In 966 AD Benedictine monks settled on the rock, built the pre-Romanesque church soon followed by the first abbey. The mount, consecrated to Saint Michael, became rapidly an important place of pilgrimage and the abbey expanded accordingly, adding building upon building, from roman to gothic, all mightier than the previous ones. Seen from the outside, its fortified architecture is testimony to the troubled times of the medieval period and the need to protect all riches contained in the abbey.
The abbey reached its apogee in the 16th century until it fell under the régime de la commende which resulted in failing discipline among the monks and the abbey eventually falling into decadence. Already used as a jail under the Ancien Régime and with fewer and fewer monks in attendance it was finally closed in 1791 when it became a plain state prison. A small community of monks returned in 1966, marking the thousand years anniversary of the abbey and today five monks and seven nuns live on the Mont.
It was not until 1874 that the abbey fell under the protection of the Service des Monuments Historiques and a huge programme of restoration (under the aegis of the unavoidable Viollet-Le-Duc) could start giving the site a new life as a highly frequented tourist destination. A World Heritage site since 1979 it attracts around 2.3 millions visitors per year, 40% of them being non-French.
|Shadow of the Mont on the bay. Click on the panorama to open a larger version in a separate tab. Click again to activate scrolling in the full picture.|
$updated from: Le Mont Saint Michel.htxt Sun 13 Dec 2020 16:00:13 trvl2 (By Vero and Thomas Lauer)$