Abbey of Saint-Martin-du-Canigou

Canigou, France

The abbey of Saint-Martin-du-Canigou is located in the Pyrenees on Canigou mountain near the Spanish border. The original Romanesque style monastery was built from 1005 to 1009 by Guifred, Count of Cerdanya, in atonement for the murder of his son and was populated by Benedictine monks.

In 1049, Guifred, Count of Cerdanya, died at the monastery he had built. In 1051 a messenger set forth to visit religious houses throughout Europe to solicit prayers for his dead master. He brought a parchment upon which at each stop were added words of prayer and respect. This parchment has survived and scholars have used it to discover differences in culture between northern and southern Europe in a single given year. Some of the discoveries from this important document include that southern culture was more staid and bound by custom while the northern culture more free form and experimental in their writing styles, use of words and grammar.

The monastery was damaged in the Catalan earthquake of 1428. It was secularized in 1782 and as abandoned fell into disrepair. During the French Revolution, the abbey was closed, and its contents scattered. The buildings were then transformed into a stone quarry for nearby residents, the capitals of the cloister were looted, as well as sculptures and furniture.

In 1902, the bishop of Elne and Perpignan, because of his Catalan background, began to restore the ruins radically, work that was completed in 1932. Today it is occupied by the Catholic Community of the Beatitudes.

The abbey consists of two churches in the First Romanesque style; the lower church, dedicated to St. Mary, and the upper, dedicated to St. Martin. The lower church is predominantly black, and vault height rarely exceeds 3 meters. The eastern part probably dates back to the consecration of 1009, while the rest of the building dates from the years 1010-1020, in conjunction with work after acquiring the relics of St. Ganders and new consecration of the church.

The upper church was built between the years 1010-1020. Its construction required the strengthening of the columns of the lower church, which were enclosed in square piles. Similar to the lower church, the Saint-Martin church is composed of three naves separated by monolithic columns and barrel vaulted semicircular. The gatehouse is no longer than 19 meters after being damaged in the 1428 earthquake. It was never fully restored. The rest of the convent buildings date from the early 20th century.

Since the restorations of 1900-1920 it is difficult to imagine the original appearance of the cloister. The cloister once had two levels, the first built in the early 11th century and the second to the late 12th century. The lower level, which showed vaulted galleries and semicircular arches was bare of any decoration. Nowadays, there remain only three galleries that have been heavily restored, lacking their original character. The upper level, had marble capitals, which were scattered after the closure of the monastery during the French Revolution. The restoration recovered some, which were incorporated in the new southern gallery.

References:

Comments

Your name



Details

Founded: 1005-1009
Category: Religious sites in France
Historical period: Birth of Capetian dynasty (France)

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Karla Flores (9 months ago)
The best place on earth to find peace
Ka Lo Chan (13 months ago)
Long hike up (30 min! So wear sensible shoes!) Very nice views along the route up, the abbey is very well kept, clean, and you get a tour from one of the monks or sisters there explaining well the history of the abbey, the pictures on the walls or pillars, while giving you enough time to take sensational photos of the views.
Olivier Prinet (14 months ago)
Where all saints go to heaven
Robert Oliver (2 years ago)
Warm greeting. Whether you have religion or not. Reflective experience with natural views to help you think.
Ingvild Skjerping Dahl (2 years ago)
Absolutely recommend a visit! On the way up, there is a quite steep walk that took around 40 minutes, but on a good road and it should be accessible for most. We walked up in the early morning to avoid the worst heat, and was awarded with a spectacular view of the abbey and the surrounding mountains. A lovely and peaceful place, indeed. The old monastery itself is surrounded by a garden kept in perfect condition, with beches to sit on and even a small souvenir shop. Recommended!
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Royal Palace of Olite

The Palace of the Kings of Navarre of Olite was one of the seats of the Court of the Kingdom of Navarre, since the reign of Charles III 'the Noble' until its conquest by Castile (1512). The fortification is both castle and palace, although it was built more like a courtier building to fulfill a military function.

On an ancient Roman fortification was built during the reign of Sancho VII of Navarre (13th century) and extended by his successors Theobald I and Theobald II, which the latter was is installed in the palace in 1269 and there he signed the consent letter for the wedding of Blanche of Artois with his brother Henry I of Navarre, who in turn, Henry I since 1271 used the palace as a temporary residence. This ancient area is known as the Old Palace.

Then the palace was housing the Navarrese court from the 14th until 16th centuries, Since the annexation (integration) of the kingdom of Navarre for the Crown of Castile in 1512 began the decline of the castle and therefore its practically neglect and deterioration. At that time it was an official residence for the Viceroys of Navarre.

In 1813 Navarrese guerrilla fighter Espoz y Mina during the Napoleonic French Invasion burned the palace with the aim to French could not make forts in it, which almost brought in ruin. It is since 1937 when architects José and Javier Yarnoz Larrosa began the rehabilitation (except the non-damaged church) for the castle palace, giving it back its original appearance and see today. The restoration work was completed in 1967 and was paid by the Foral Government of Navarre.