A walk into the Middle Ages with all the reminiscent grandeur, wood and stone art to stir the soul within.
The relevance of this epic structure first came to the fore during the middle ages. Situated in Burgundy, France it was the epicenter of a monastic revolution. The church here was the largest Christian establishment in the entire world. That was before the St. Peter’s Basilica was reconstructed during the sixteenth century in Rome.
Today a Museum is included in the site filled with Romanesque artifacts which are equivalent to treasures of gold and jewel. There are also beautiful and pleasant gardens to sense the ease and the peace which once flowed throughout the structure. One can visit the remains of the church of the Cluny Abbey which includes a twelfth century transept of the church.
Sights to Behold:
One can only imagine what the abbey at its height could have looked like. The ruins promise of a glorious and artistic marvel. The entrance from the village to the abbey at the Porte d’Honneur is a good place to start the tour.
The south transept with its two towers is crowned by the holy water belfry which is the Clocher de I’Eau-Benite. The bell tower is majestic with its Corinthian columns and pilasters which will leave one reminiscent of the classical architecture of a bygone era. The whole nave of the cruciform church is missing but one can take in the beauty of the recreated monumental staircase which once led to the entrance of the church of the abbey.
Napoleon the great built a horse breeding center on the side of the transept. The materials used for construction were from the destroyed abbey. This national horse breeding institution was founded in the year 1806 by the man Napoleon himself. On the other side of the transept is an 18th century pavilion. In the elegance of the pavilion once resided the famed monks of the abbey.
The abbey even gave refuge to the needy and provided shelter to Abelard who was a controversial philosopher. The gardens here at one point in time had an ancient tree of lime named after the French philosopher. Sadly it was destroyed in a storm in the year 1982.
A gothic styled building stands tall to the right of the transept. This thirteenth century building once was used as a wine cellar. The upper level of this gothic building was a granary. The granary now has on display many an artifacts and different models of the abbey. One can also find exquisite collection of capitals from the choir here. A twelfth century gorgeous chestnut and oak roof still holds strong at this gothic inspired structure.
Romanesque sculpted capitals:
The themes of the capitals are refined and symbolic of the times. It shows the sophistication of the abbey which once enjoyed power over far flung European colonies. The Romanesque styled capitals are 80 cm high and are put on display on an original choir column.
The themes sculpted on the capitals include trees of paradise, the seasons, four winds, four rivers, theological virtues and personification of tones of plainsong. One can also see mythological animals, Adam and Eve and the sacrifice of the Isaac.
One can also visit the abbatial palace which contains the Musee Ochier. One can find great pieces of Roman styled sculptures here. Sights to behold here are the conserved remains of the village, abbey and the monk’s library which is the Bibliotheque Des Moines.
A brief history:
The Cluny Abbey was founded in 910 and the monastic reformation movement which sparked here spread its flames far and wide in Europe. This wonder from the past was created on a hunting preserve which was densely forested. The land for the Abbey was gifted by William I the pious.
Unlike any other!
This abbey was unlike any other and was differential starting from its foundation. Unlike other monasteries of the time the Cluny abbey monks had no obligation to its chief patron other than prayers for his soul. The Cluny abbey was responsible to answer only to the pope.
The monk’s inspiring liturgy:
The Benedictine monks founded the abbey and were committed to perpetual prayer, liturgy and pursuits of purely spiritual nature against the practices of other monasteries such as labor. Liturgy (ceremony for public worship) at the Cluny abbey was beautiful and extensive and inspired the surroundings.
The administration of the Cluny was also unique as before the monasteries used to autonomous. The new monasteries which were founded in the Cluniac way were priories which were looked after by a prior. The prior reported to the abbot at Cluny Abbey.
The abbots of Cluny were as powerful as the popes. Four of Cluny abbots went on to become popes. Two of the abbots of Cluny were even canonized.
The monument can be located at F-71250 Cluny at Palais Jean de Bourbon. Information can also be sought by calling 33/ (0)3 85 59 15 93. The opening hours of the Cluny abbey during the months of May to August are daily from 9:30 am to 6:30 pm. In the month of September to April daily from 9:30 am to noon and 1:30 pm to 5 pm one can relish in the beauty of this wonder from the middle ages.
On adults an entry charge of euro 6.50 is levied. There are two bookshops at the start and at the end of the Cluny abbey tour. Toilets facilities are also available near to the site.