Slender spires and medieval walls and towers rise above the rocky islet of Mont Saint-Michel. Droves of tourists come each year to see the stunning ensemble that crowns the mount. This magnificent beauty is Mont Saint-Michel Abbey in the Normandy region of France. Often called 'The Wonder of the Western World', the abbey is a World Heritage Site. The Mont Saint-Michel Abbey, an exemplary Romanesque and Gothic style architecture, is a prominent site of medieval Christian civilization.
From exploring the medieval village to walking along the ramparts, there is a lot to do and see inside Saint Mont Michel. Grab a meal or some light snacks at one of the restaurants overlooking the bay, pick a souvenir or visit one of the four museums in the village to learn a detailed account of the 1,300 years of the island. Here are the top highlights that you should not miss.
The Merveille is the Gothic part of the Mont Saint-Michel Abbey. The monks lived here. The three-layered levels that tower to 35 meters consist of the cellar on the ground floor, the knight's room and the Hosts' room on the intermediate level and the cloister and the refectory on the top level. Each floor was used either for public or monastic functions.
The top of the mount has the Abbey Church, a blend of different periods and styles. The altar and the surrounding aisle showcase Gothic style even though the church originally exhibited Romanesque style. You can see this in the nave and the rounded arches of the abbey.
On the walkway to Abbaye du Mont Saint Michel, there is a small 15th-century church. It serves the residents. While it can be easily missed, keep an eye for it. The sculpture of Michel and the stained glasses are one of the most impressive features of this quaint church.
The third level of the Merveille building contains a cloister- an open space suspended between the sky and the sea. The Cloister has a beautiful garden surrounded by double rows of columns and delicately carved spandrels, made using granite, stone and marble.
On the intermediate level of the Merville is the Knight’s room (La salle des Chevaliers). The room was also called the scriptorium. It was thought the room was used to produce manuscripts. But it was another place where monks read, studied and meditated.
Mont Saint Michel Abbey has roots in the 8th century when the Bishop of Avranches erected a chapel to honour the Archangel Michael, followed by the settlement of Benedictine monks in 966.
The Mont Saint Michel Abbey's architectural significance spans over 1,300 years and stands on a granite inlet amidst quicksand, showcasing a combination of Romanesque and Gothic styles.
The 13th-century 'Marvel' or 'La Merveille' is a striking cloister in the Mont Saint Michel Abbey, featuring a three-tiered structure supported by sixteen buttresses, reflecting both Romanesque and Gothic styles.
Mont Saint Michel Abbey, a source of inspiration for various works, has left its mark on Hollywood creations like Lord of the Rings and Pixar's animated movie Tangled.
Inside the Mont Saint Michel Abbey, you can tour the 'Marvel' building where monks lived, the Abbey Church exhibiting a blend of styles, Saint-Pierre Church, and the mesmerizing Cloisters.
The Abbey Church displays a mix of Gothic and Romanesque styles, evident in its different sections like the altar and the nave.
Yes, visitors can explore most areas of the Mont Saint Michel Abbey, including the cloisters, churches, and the Merveille, offering a comprehensive view of its architectural and historical significance.
Yes, guided tours of Mont Saint Michel Abbey are available for visitors, providing insights into the historical and cultural significance of the abbey and its architectural marvels.
Religious services are held in certain parts of the Mont Saint Michel Abbey, allowing visitors to participate in these events and experience the spiritual significance of the site.
Periodic exhibitions and cultural events take place at the Mont Saint Michel Abbey, presenting historical artefacts and enriching the visitor experience.
Yes, photography and filming is permitted within the Mont Saint Michel Abbey.