Maillezais Cathedral and Abbey Ruins

Maillezais, France

Maillezais Cathedral was originally part of the Abbey of Saint-Pierre. It was constructed in the 15th century, and the cathedral and its associated structures were abandoned by the late 17th century. The ruins include the cathedral itself, along with a refectory, dormitory, kitchen, cellars, turrets, and ramparts.

The history of Maillezais Cathedral dates back to the 10th century when Countess Emma and her husband, William IV, Duke of Aquitaine, discovered the ruins of a chapel dedicated to Saint Hilaire during a hunting expedition. They contributed to the reconstruction, and the new church was consecrated in 989. The abbey was moved to Maillezais in 1010, and it became a significant religious institution.

In 1317, Maillezais was elevated to the status of a diocese, with Saint-Pierre Cathedral serving as its seat. The cathedral became a center of intellectual pursuits, with figures like François Rabelais teaching there in the early 16th century.

However, during the Reformation and the subsequent Wars of Religion, the cathedral was destroyed in 1562. It was later fortified by Agrippa d'Aubigné, a Protestant, and used as a stronghold by the Protestants for several decades.

The cathedral changed hands between Catholics and Protestants multiple times before returning to Catholic control in 1619. In 1648, the Bishopric of Maillezais was transferred to La Rochelle, and the monastic community at Maillezais was abandoned in 1666.

After the French Revolution, the cathedral was sold as national property and later returned to the people in 1840. It was designated a historical monument in 1924. Restoration efforts began in the late 20th century.

Today, the ruins of Maillezais Cathedral bear witness to its rich history, with elements of Romanesque and Gothic architecture still visible. Excavations have revealed foundations of various buildings, including a kitchen, refectory, dormitory, and chapter house, providing insight into the abbey's daily life.



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Founded: 11th century
Category: Religious sites in France
Historical period: Birth of Capetian dynasty (France)

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4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Dean Hepburn (9 months ago)
Brilliant place to explore. So much yet to be uncovered and revealed. Lovely restaurants and landscape. I received a booklet in English which guided my tour ?
Holly Newton (2 years ago)
Nice building to look around, but they didn't have any English guide books for us to follow and all signs where in french so nice to see but didn't know what we where looking at. One video had subtitles but that was it.
Sarah Steele (5 years ago)
Such good value for money. 6 euros per adult children under 18 free. Very pretty grounds and interesting ruins and a 30 minute play! Free parking and picnic area. You must also hire a boat and explore the waterways of Venice Vert. Not to be missed.
Gert Laursen (5 years ago)
Could be more engaging for children. But lovely restaurant and boat rental adds up to 5 stars
Antonio Elena (5 years ago)
Awesome site with ruins of a cathedral as big as Paris Notre Dame. The visit does not take long and the history behind is quite interesting
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