France, Abbey of Montmajour

France, Abbey of Montmajour

In order to build the Abbey of Monmajour a few kilometers from Arles, in the 10th century, Benedictine monks had to drain the local marshes. The land on which the monastery was erected was presented to the Order by one notable lady, and in 948 it was laid down.


The monastery was widely known among the pilgrims who came to Montmajour in order to atone for their sins, making a donation to the order. Already at the end of the 10th century, Montmaurie became one of the richest abbeys of Provence and remained so until the 18th century. From the 11th century, Provencese counts found their last refuge in the crypts of the monastery.

Externally, the monastery, built on a hill, looked more like a fortress, so powerful were its buildings. In the XIV century, the appearance of the abbey was supplemented by impressive walls designed to protect the Benedictine brothers from the encroachments of hired soldiers. At the end of the XVI century, during the religious wars, the thick walls did not help the monks – they were evicted by soldiers, and the brothers themselves lived in Arles for two years.

The last abbot of the abbey (the second half of the 18th century) was Cardinal de Rogan, a participant in a scandalous episode with the purchase of a fabulously expensive diamond necklace on behalf of Queen Marie-Antoinette, the story of this scam was described in one of the novels of Alexander Dumas. Sam de Rogan, who wanted to achieve the location of the queen, was used by swindlers and then punished by the king.

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During the Great French Revolution, the abbey was nationalized and sold. The dilapidated buildings of the monastery were bought back closer to the middle of the next century.

Today, in the ensemble of the abbey, you can see a chapel, a watchtower, buildings in the style of classicism and earlier buildings. By the time of the founding of the abbey is a semi-underground chapel of Saint-Pierre, a century later the Church of Our Lady was erected. Just in the distance is the chapel of the Holy Cross, built in the XII century for pilgrims.

Nowadays, the abbey is protected by UNESCO as a historical monument. At the abbey is an art gallery, which hosts exhibitions of paintings by Van Gogh and other famous painters.

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