Saint-Michel Abbey

Gaillac, France

The Abbey Saint-Michel is intimately tied to the origins of Gaillac, a silent witness to the town’s long history.

In 972 AD the Bishop of Albi handed some land to a group of Benedictine monks, instructing them to found an abbey there. These monks also set about the business of winegrowing – with great success, it must be said – which contributed to Gaillac’s economic development and to the town’s burgeoning reputation both in France and further afield across Europe.

 Gaillac managed to avoid destruction at the hands of the Albi Crusaders. But the town was not entirely spared by the 100 Years War, or the French Religious Wars. It was the wine trade that brought about Gaillac’s regeneration. The abbey was rebuilt in the 16th and 17th centuries before the French Revolution of 1789 finally sounded the death knell for its role as a religious building.

The Abbey Saint-Michel is open to visitors every day. If you want an amazing view of the Abbey rising up from the River Tarn, just take a short walk onto the Saint-Michel bridge and look back. The red brick and ochre tones of the building are symbolic of the town of Gaillac, and they blend beautifully with the colours of the sunset. In its vaulted cellars that were once used to store wine barrels, the museum retraces the history and traditions of Gaillac, its wines and vineyards, and its Abbey from Gallo-Roman times to the current day.

References:

Comments

Your name



Details

Founded: 972 AD
Category: Religious sites in France
Historical period: Frankish kingdoms (France)

Rating

4.2/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

D.Dilek Arnhold (3 years ago)
Beautiful outstanding but inside is empty... It s so sad but whole village needs a real renovation...
D.Dilek Arnhold (3 years ago)
Beautiful outstanding but inside is empty... It s so sad but whole village needs a real renovation...
mountain olive (3 years ago)
Wow wow a very diferent cathedral
mountain olive (3 years ago)
Wow wow a very diferent cathedral
Gulnisa Coskun (3 years ago)
it is open until 6 pm for wine tasting every week it has different local wines of 6 types, place is very nice to visit and staff are English speakers and very kind
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Broch of Gurness

The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.

The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.

The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.

Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.

At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.

In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.