Silvacane Abbey is a former Cistercian monastery in the municipality of La Roque-d'Anthéron. It was founded in or around 1144 as a daughter house of Morimond Abbey. In 1358 the abbey was plundered by the troops of the army of Aubignan, and from this time on its financial problems grew, until in 1443 the monks were obliged to abandon the abbey. The buildings became the property of the chapter of Aix Cathedral and the church was turned into the parish church of La Roque-d’Anthéron.

The buildings fell into disrepair during the 17th and 18th centuries. The abbey premises were auctioned off during the French Revolution and became a farm. After the site had passed through a number of private hands the church was bought by the French government in 1846 and declared an historical monument, and restoration work initiated. The other buildings of the complex received little attention, however; the state did not acquire them until 1949, and serious restoration took place only in the 1990s.


The abbey church was constructed between 1175 and 1230 in predominantly Romanesque style with some Gothic elements on the highest part of the terrain. The building, a basilica with transepts, has a pointed barrel vault, with a plain ribbed vault at the crossing, on substantial cruciform columns, the capitals of which, in the form of very simple foliage motifs, are very finely carved.

The chapter house and the day-room, in the east range, and the cloister were all constructed in the 13th century, the cloister with plain Romanesque arches and the day room has a Gothic vaulted ceiling, also of the 13th century.

To the north of the cloister is the refectory, rebuilt in the late 13th century in the more elaborate rayonnant Gothic style. This is the most ornate of the monastery buildings, built at a time when the order had relaxed some of the more rigorous rules of Bernard of Clairvaux.

Present use

The church and other buildings are no longer used for religious purposes. The buildings are prime examples of the Romanesque architecture of Provence. They are open to the public and are sometimes used for cultural events, including the Piano Festival de La Roque-d'Anthéron, the Silvacane Festival of Vocal Music at Silvacane, and the Festival International de Quatuors à Cordes du Luberon.



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Founded: 1144
Category: Religious sites in France
Historical period: Birth of Capetian dynasty (France)

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User Reviews

Miriam Care (12 months ago)
definitely get the audio guide. This is a well restored Cistercian monastery, the cloister nicely planted and a good gift shop as well. You will learn about the life of the monks during the 11 -1200's.
Mark Tobin (3 years ago)
Beautiful 12th century Abby with regular concerts in the summertime. We attended a Mozart concert featuring Le Quatuor Van Kuijk, part of their summer concert series, and they delivered an impassioned, virtuoso performance.
Douglas Sim (5 years ago)
Very simple but largely preserved monastic church. Well looked after by the community
Nathaniel Spencer (6 years ago)
Lovely grounds and there are great acoustics in the middle of the main hall. There are laminated instructions for each bit with a description in most languages but it was a walk around yourself deal. No tour.
Mark De Proost (6 years ago)
Cistercienzer abbey - very austere and beatiful architecture - nice museum shop
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