The Cistercian Abbaye de Noirlac, founded in 1136, is a fine example of medieval monastic architecture. The chapter house, where the monks’ daily assemblies were held, and the cellier, where the lay brothers were in charge of the food, wine and grain stores, were built in plain but elegant style. The cloisters, with their graceful arches and decorated capitals, date from the 13th and 14th centuries, which was a less severe period.

  • Eyewitness Travel Guide: Loire Valley. 2007


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Founded: 1136
Category: Religious sites in France
Historical period: Birth of Capetian dynasty (France)

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User Reviews

Yannick Issoudun (3 years ago)
Remarque... Personnel à l'écoute, sympathique, très professionnel... Lieu très bien aménagé, cadre magnifiquement mis en valeur... Bravo
ducky duck (3 years ago)
Magnifique lieu certes déserté par les moines mais dont les vibrations de ce lieu dont magiques. De plus ce weekend, celui du 10/nov/2018 un marché monastique se tient. Tous les produits de qualité présentés viennent de toute la France des divers monastères et couvents.
Vincent Huard (3 years ago)
Magnifique site dans un lieu caché du centre de la France. Je vous conseille la visite guidée qui permet de parfaitement comprendre l'histoire du site. La visite est adaptée aux enfants qui en plus peuvent grâce à un petit livre résoudre une énigme. Le personnel d'accueil est vraiment très sympathique et la guide très intéressante. Cette visite peut être faite en famille sans aucun soucis.
Jem LM (3 years ago)
Site magnifique, malheureusement un peu caché quand on ne connait pas. Personnel aux petits soins, visite guidée instructive. On y apprécie le calme et la sérénité des lieux. L'architecture est magnifique. Les jardins splendides et parfaitement entretenus. Le petit moment de bonheur : passer quelques minutes au calme sous des tilleuls plusieurs fois centenaires. De la détente instructive.
Nigel Welch (3 years ago)
Totally restored but without any historic or authentic furnishings to show what life would have been like
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Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba

The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.

According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while in 961 Al-Hakam II enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of such reforms was carried out by Almanzor in 987. It was connected to the Caliph"s palace by a raised walkway, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers – as well as Christian Kings who built their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.

In 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the centre of the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. Alfonso X oversaw the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel within the mosque. The kings who followed added further Christian features, such as King Henry II rebuilding the chapel in the 14th century. The minaret of the mosque was also converted to the bell tower of the cathedral. It was adorned with Santiago de Compostela"s captured cathedral bells. Following a windstorm in 1589, the former minaret was further reinforced by encasing it within a new structure.

The most significant alteration was the building of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the expansive structure. The insertion was constructed by permission of Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon. Artisans and architects continued to add to the existing structure until the late 18th century.


The building"s floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large and flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.

In planning the mosque, the architects incorporated a number of Roman columns with choice capitals. Some of the columns were already in the Gothic structure; others were sent from various regions of Iberia as presents from the governors of provinces. Ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass were used in the decorations. Marvellous mosaics and azulejos were designed. Later, the immense temple embodied all the styles of Morisco architecture into one composition.

The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, granite and porphyry. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple that had occupied the site previously, as well as other Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. The double arches were an innovation, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch.