21/10/2019

Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel: an island-fortress

Despite the popularity of tourists (Saint-Michel is visited annually by up to 3 million people), the abbey itself and the ancient houses of the surrounding city still preserve the spirit of the Middle Ages.

Today, Mont Saint Michel is known not so much as a religious, but as a cultural and historical object. On the territory of the fortress, there are dozens of old buildings and picturesque ruins in different architectural styles, the most ancient of which date back to the 8th century.

Saint-Michel is one of the most famous long-term construction projects in the world. The first church on the island was founded in 708, and only completed the construction of the complex in 1520. The main building of the abbey was erected for 500 years, from the 11th to the 16th century, with interruptions to wars and conflicts, which were frequent at that time.

The abbey experienced a lot of trouble – they tried to burn it, to conquer it, and the city adjoining it was destroyed several times, but thanks to its successful location, the castle still survived. The island of Saint-Michel is really an ideal place for a fortress: until in 1989 they built a dam connecting it to the mainland, it was in principle impossible to get here during the tides. The huge waves, the strongest tides in Europe, sharp rocks and shifting sands opening at low tide, made Mont Saint-Michel truly unapproachable.

Today, a community of 7 Benedictine monks lives in the abbey, and a few dozen more people live in the town adjacent to the castle. The town itself has been completely turned into a tourist object – in ancient stone houses, there are souvenir shops, restaurants, and hotels, which, however, does not spoil it at all. By the way, we recommend staying for the night in one of these hotels. in order to calmly explore the city late in the evening or early in the morning in the absence of crowds of tourists and take a couple of shots that strangers don’t get.

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