On coast of northwestern France, there is a stunning architectural and natural landscape, that is, Mont Saint Michel. This medieval castle and monastery is located on an island surrounded by shallows and bays. Mont Saint-Michel is one of oldest and most famous pilgrimage sites in France and one of most popular tourist destinations in world. This place has a rich historical and cultural heritage, including medieval architecture, works of art, traditional activities and gastronomy. Here you can stroll through narrow streets, discover history of castles and monasteries, enjoy beautiful natural scenery, taste local cuisine and enjoy romantic atmosphere. Whether you want to learn about history, experience culture, or enjoy food and natural beauty, Mont Saint-Michel is place to visit.
Legends say that history of Mont Saint-Michel began in 708, when angel Michel appeared in a dream to Bishop Aubert three times. It is said that Saint Michael asked him to build a sanctuary on highest point of island named after him. The construction of this first church echoes construction of first shrine of Archangel on Mount Gargan in Italian province of Apulia, which also corresponds to rise of Christianity in West at that time.
In 966, Richard I, Duke of Normandy, settled Benedictine monks on hill, who were subject to rule of Saint Benois. Ever since monks, according to tradition, built a Romanesque monastery in 1023, this mountain has become a place of pilgrimage that should not be missed by all Christianity in West. They came to Saint-Michel for protection and salvation of their souls.
At same time, monastery began to produce, store and study a large number of manuscripts. In Middle Ages, it became a major cultural center. The abbey of Mont Saint-Michel was a real political and intellectual crossroads, welcoming pilgrims of all skill levels, including several kings of France and England such as Henry II Plantagenet, St. Louis, Louis XI, Breguet Anna Tagny, Francis I. . .
The Abbey is a strategic point in center of bay and a stronghold of Duchy of Normandy in Middle Ages. During Hundred Years' War, Mont Saint-Michel held firm despite many conflicts that took place in region. This is especially due to construction of mighty walls, which made it an impregnable city, but probably also due to constant ebb and flow of tides. The mountain was under siege by British from 1423 and won in 1434, after which it became a symbol of victory of the French kingdom.
In seventeenth century, people lost their motivation to go on a pilgrimage. Gradually, it was turned into a prison, and during French Revolution, state nationalized property of clergy, and monks were subsequently expelled from abbey. Most of its premises have been completely redesigned to accommodate maximum number of ordinary prisoners and other political prisoners. Among its famous prisoners were Armand Barbes and Auguste Blanqui, fierce opponents of July Monarchy. This prison period, though grim, helped save abbey from total destruction.
Mont Saint-Michel and its bay were inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979 and one of first French cultural heritage sites to be included in this list.
The most famous buildings of Mont Saint-Michel are medieval castle and abbey, which were built in 11th century and are a huge stone complex. Castles and monasteries are surrounded by high walls and gates, and many fortifications can be seen, such as watchtowers, moats, and shooting towers on walls.
There are many magnificent buildings in castle and monastery, such as monastery church, monastery hall, monastery library and so on. In addition, Mont Saint-Michel has many valuable works of art and cultural traditions, such as medieval manuscripts, frescoes, sculptures, etc. These works of art and cultural traditions reflect historical and cultural background of Mont Saint-Michel.
The abbey church of Mont Saint-Michel was built on top of a cliff whose highest point was 80 meters, and they built four cellars upstream of cliff to support hilltop building, a feat achieved by ingenuity of medieval builders. The abbey church is real center of labyrinth of stairs.
From this space, one can climb further to heights by entering choir terrace and then stairs leading to Notre Dame de Silgis, or underground Notre Dame, into depths of monastery. Impressive are transverse vaults above choir and cylindrical vaults of nave, as well as triangular and tall windows.
The view from western terrace of monastery is stunning. From Cape Gruen in west to Granville in north, bay of Mont Saint-Michel extends over almost 500 square kilometers. On a clear day, you can even see the Josie Islands looking north.
Tombeline Island is also visible from this side. To west, these vast artificial lands jut out of bay and are used to grow vegetables. In south, a few things stand out: Couesnon Dam and River, and footbridge that connects mountain to mainland.
The Bay of Mont Saint-Michel is an oasis inhabited by many creatures. There are many plants and animals there. On landward side of western terraces, famous Salt Meadow sheep can be seen. By sea you can see seals that are accustomed to the bay. And Tombeleine is a bird sanctuary, in spring many birds come to nest.
Mont Saint Michel Tourist Center is a center providing information, services and entertainment for tourists, located more than 1 km from outskirts of Mont Saint Michel. This tourist center provides a variety of tourist information and services such as maps, guides, car rentals, accommodation bookings and more. In addition, tourist center has a gift shop that sells various souvenirs and special items for tourists. The tourist center also has a restaurant and cafe where tourists can rest and eat, providing tourists with more full-service places, and it is starting point for tourists to explore Mont Saint-Michel.
Mont Saint-Michel is a tourist attraction worth visiting. It has a rich historical and cultural heritage, as well as magnificent natural scenery. You can visit monasteries and churches, explore surroundings and beaches, taste local cuisine and enjoy an unforgettable journey.