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Mont Saint Michel Facts: Discover This Unique Tidal Island

Mont Saint-Michel is a stunning island commune in France, known for its medieval abbey atop rocky cliffs. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it is a popular tourist destination. Read on to know how it came into being and more!

10 Interesting Facts About Mont Saint Michel

From how Mont Saint Michel originated from a dream to it being used as an inspiration for movies, here are some fascinating facts about the structure!

Mont Saint Michel Facts
Mont Saint Michel Facts
Mont Saint Michel Facts

3. The structural built represents the feudal hierarchy.

The construction of the Mont Saint Michael represents the feudal hierarchy practised at the time. God is, of course, on top and after that comes the abbey and the monastery. The great halls are constructed below this and then comes the stores and the housing and at the bottom nearly outside the walls are situated the fisherman's and farmers’ housing.

Mont Saint Michel Facts

4. The English could never capture it.

The strong fortifications & high tidal waves made it impossible for the English to capture and conquer Mont Saint Michel during the Hundred Years Qar. The abbey withstood a siege for thirty years and their strong defence against England inspired Joan of Arc as well.

Mont Saint Michel Facts

5. Mont Saint Michel was also a prison.

The abbey’s purpose underwent a change during the French Revolution in the 18th century, when there were hardly any monks left. The abbey stored high profile political prisoners of the revolution but many influential people campaigned to save the architectural treasure and in 1863 the prison was closed down.

Mont Saint Michel Facts

6. It is a very important pilgrimage spot.

Mont Saint Michel is well known for being a tourist destination but it is also a very important pilgrimage site. From the 10th century, many pilgrims came to the abbey passing perilous routes and the sands covering the bay in Low tide. Without the bridge interconnecting the mainland and the island, it was a risky adventure to cross the bay as there were also a lot of quicksand deposits in the area. 

Mont Saint Michel Facts

7. Mont Saint Michel has a replica.

William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy created a replica of Mont Saint Michel that was called St Michael’s Mount of Penzance and is situated on the English side of the channel. This replica is much smaller and is also located on a tidal island.

Mont Saint Michel Facts

8. It has inspired many movie castles.

The iconic castle of the animated movie Tangled was inspired by the Mont Saint Michel. It was also the inspiration behind Minas Tirith, the capital city of Gondor in Lord Of The Rings.

Mont Saint Michel Facts
Mont Saint Michel Facts

10. It is a UNESCO Heritage Site.

Mont Saint Michel and the surrounding bay have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979.




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All Your Questions About Mont Saint Michel Answered

How long did it take to build Mont Saint Michel?

Mont Saint Michel was built over a period of 1300 years by several generations of workers.

Why was Mont Saint Michel constructed on an island?

The idea to build Mont Saint Michel on the island came from a dream that Bishop Aubert of Avranches had, in which Archangel Michel instructed him to build a church on the rocky island at the mouth of the Couesnon River.

What does the structure of Mont Saint Michel represent?

The construction of Mont Saint Michel represents the feudal hierarchy of the time, with God at the top, followed by the abbey and monastery, great halls, stores, and housing, and at the bottom, fisherman's and farmers' housing.

Why couldn't the English capture Mont Saint Michel during the Hundred Years War?

The English could not capture Mont Saint Michel due to its strong fortifications and the high tidal waves that made it nearly impregnable during the Hundred Years War. The abbey withstood a siege for thirty years and even inspired Joan of Arc.

Was Mont Saint Michel ever used as a prison?

Yes, during the French Revolution, Mont Saint Michel served as a prison for high-profile political prisoners, as there were few monks left at the time. The prison was eventually closed in 1863.

Is Mont Saint Michel primarily a tourist destination or a pilgrimage site?

Mont Saint Michel is both a popular tourist destination and an important pilgrimage site. Pilgrims have been visiting the abbey since the 10th century, often taking perilous routes across the bay during low tide.

Is there a replica of Mont Saint Michel?

Yes, William the Conqueror created a smaller replica of Mont Saint Michel called St Michael’s Mount of Penzance, located on the English side of the channel.

Has Mont Saint Michel inspired any movies or castles in popular culture?

Mont Saint Michel has inspired various movie castles, including the iconic castle in the animated movie Tangled and Minas Tirith, the capital city of Gondor in The Lord of the Rings.

What are the tidal waves like at Mont Saint Michel?

Mont Saint Michel experiences some of the highest tidal waves in Europe, reaching nearly 14 meters. In the past, crossing to the island was only possible during low tide using a tidal causeway.

Is Mont Saint Michel recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

Yes, Mont Saint Michel and its surrounding bay have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979.