Monolithic Church of Saint-Emilion

Saint-Émilion, France

The Monolithic Church of Saint-Emilion is an underground church dugged in the early 12th century of gigantic proportions (38 metres long and 12 metres high). At the heart of the city, the church reminds the religious activity of the city in the Middle Ages and intrigues by its unusual design. If it shows itself in the eyes of the visitor by the position of a 68-meter-high bell tower, then it hides itself behind the elegance of three openings on the front and a Gothic portal often closed.

The goal of its realization is probably the development of the city around a pilgrim activity on the tomb of the patron saint St. Emilion. In memory of the Breton hermit who had settled in a nearby cave during the 8th century, and in order to edify the faithful, the ambition to achieve a sufficiently large reliquary church to host hundreds of pilgrims, was born.



Your name


Founded: 12th century
Category: Religious sites in France
Historical period: Birth of Capetian dynasty (France)


4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Francis Fave (8 months ago)
This was surprisingly interesting. Lots of unique learnings of the area and time period. I did the tour in french and my french gf could translate what I didn't understand. Go at noon for the English tour. Book it at the visitors centre. We just showed up and could book for later the same day so quite easy.
Julie Brooks (8 months ago)
One of my absolute favourite villages to visit & the church is just beautiful. Not my first time here, & it certainly won't be my last.
徐瑞智 (9 months ago)
Informative guiding tour. The underground church can only be accessed with a reservation. The meeting point was in front of a wooden gate in case you wondered. You can either book online or visit the tourist center for booking onsite. The student ticket was 9 euros and the adult price, if I remembered correctly, was 12€. The tour was led either in English or French. Remember to check the language availability because English one was not offered all the time. The tour was a bit shorter than 1 hour I supposed. It’s cool to see the painting 700 years ago. But the tomb of Saint Emilion was not here. Also, no picture is allowed.
Barb Berglund (11 months ago)
Very cool experience, went down subterranean to a chapel and into the catacombs. The guide was enthusiastic and provided a colorful image of the 1200s. It was end of February and they do not do tours in English until spring, but I was able to follow the expressive guide just fine!
fran walker (12 months ago)
A fantastic tour of an amazing underground church. Run by the Tourist Information office it's really worth taking time away from the wine to go on. You can take the tour in French or English at certain times of the year but ours was in French. It gives you a detailed history of St Emilion whilst walking through the cave, catacombs and finally the monolithic church. Very impressive and very unexpected. The guide kept the tour interesting and was very engaging. For all the family. A bit different.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls

The Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls was part of the federal sanctuary of the three Gauls dedicated to the cult of Rome and Augustus celebrated by the 60 Gallic tribes when they gathered at Lugdunum (Lyon). The amphitheatre was built at the foot of the La Croix-Rousse hill at what was then the confluence of the Rhône and Saône.

Excavations have revealed a basement of three elliptical walls linked by cross-walls and a channel surrounding the oval central arena. The arena was slightly sloped, with the building"s south part supported by a now-vanished vault. The arena"s dimensions are 67,6m by 42m. This phase of the amphitheatre housed games which accompanied the imperial cult, with its low capacity (1,800 seats) being enough for delegations from the 60 Gallic tribes.

The amphitheatre was expanded at the start of the 2nd century. Two galleries were added around the old amphitheatre, raising its width from 25 metres to 105 metres and its capacity to about 20,000 seats. In so doing it made it a building open to the whole population of Lugdunum and its environs.