Mont Saint-Michel: A Place of Myths and Legends

Mont Saint-Michel is one of the most iconic landmarks in France. Located on an island off the coast of Normandy, it has been a place of pilgrimage since ancient times and is steeped in myths and legends. The abbey at Mont Saint-Michel was founded by St. Aubert in 708 AD, making it one of the oldest monasteries in Europe.

Throughout its long history, Mont Saint-Michel has served as a fortress, a prison, and even a royal residence before being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. Today, more than three million visitors make their way to this majestic site each year to marvel at its beauty and explore its many secrets.

Mont Saint-Michel: A Place Of Myths And Legends

The legend of the construction of Mont Saint-Michel

One of the most famous legends associated with Mont Saint-Michel is the story of its construction. According to the legend, Bishop Aubert of Avranches had a dream of the Archangel Michael, who commanded him to construct an abbey on the small island of Mont Saint-Michel. Initially, the bishop did not pay attention to this message, but soon Michael reappeared and burned a hole in his head with his finger as a reminder. The angel repeated the words “build it and they will come” until Bishop Aubert finally began construction of the abbey at Mont Saint-Michel.

Mont Saint-Michel


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Today, the physical remains of Bishop Aubert’s skull housed at the Saint-Gervais d’Avranches Basilica on Mont Saint-Michel are said to bear a mark left by the archangel Michael, which is seen as further evidence in support of the legend behind the island’s construction. This relic serves as a reminder of the spiritual importance and power of faith and religion in the history of this remarkable place.

Bishop Aubert'S Skull

Other myths and legends surrounding the area

Some also believe that Charlemagne once visited the abbey and was so moved by its beauty that he threw his sword into the sea, creating an underwater path that connects it to the mainland. Another legend claims that there is a hidden treasure buried beneath the foundations of Mont Saint-Michel. While these stories may never be proven true, they continue to add to their mystique and attract people from around the world.

The abbey at Mont Saint-Michel contains many secrets and ancient artifacts, giving visitors a glimpse into its rich history. Among its treasures are several beautiful stained glass windows created by Benedictine monks during the 12th century. The cloister garden is also home to some rare species of plants that have survived centuries of changing climate and terrain.

Despite its long history, much of Mont Saint-Michel’s past remains a mystery thanks to its unique location and the lack of written records about it for much of its existence. Even today, visitors flock to the island in search of answers, hoping to solve its puzzles or discover some new legend or myth about this magical place.

In recent years, archaeologists have made several important discoveries about Mont Saint-Michel’s past which have shed light on its fascinating story. During excavations on the site, they uncovered evidence that suggests it was used as a burial ground for high-ranking individuals during medieval times as well as for those affected by plague outbreaks throughout Europe in the 14th century. They also discovered evidence suggesting that it became an important center for religious pilgrimages during this time period due to its special status as an independent county in France.

The architecture of Mont Saint-Michel

The Architecture Of Mont Saint-Michel

Mont Saint-Michel is renowned for its stunning architecture that has been centuries in the making. The island is home to a majestic Benedictine abbey which sits atop an outcrop of rock surrounded by the bay of Mont Saint-Michel. This abbey boasts an impressive array of architectural styles and features, ranging from Romanesque designs to Gothic elements and more.

The most iconic feature of Mont Saint-Michel is the Abbey Church, which was constructed between 804 and 832 AD during the reign of Charlemagne. It was built in three distinct stages; a crypt, choir, and nave, all made with granite stones cut from quarries on the mainland. This church stands as one of the greatest examples of Norman Romanesque architecture in Europe today. Other prominent features within the complex include the cloister garden, which dates back to 1150 AD and contains rare species of plants that have survived centuries of changing climate and terrain; several beautiful stained glass windows created by Benedictine monks during the 12th century; and St Aubert’s Chapel, erected in 708 AD when St Aubert founded Mont Saint-Michel’s original monastery.

The entire complex is encircled by defensive walls that were built in 1380 AD to protect it from attack by English forces during the Hundred Years War. These walls are punctuated with towers along their length which provide magnificent views over both land and sea. Inside these walls lies a maze-like network of streets and alleys containing shops, restaurants, and other amenities for visitors to enjoy.

Tips for making a visit to Mont Saint-Michel memorable

  1. Visit during low tide to explore the bay and discover the island’s hidden treasures
  2. Take a tour of Mont Saint-Michel and its historical structures, like La Merveille (The Wonder) and Le Petit Chapiteau.
  3. Taste some of Normandy’s famous seafood cuisine at one of the restaurants near Mont Saint-Michel.
  4. Climb up to the top of the abbey for stunning views over both land and sea
  5. Go bird watching or take part in activities such as kayaking or sailing around Mont Saint-Michel.
  6. Attend an outdoor showing of traditional medieval music performances
  7. Tour nearby attractions such as Bayeux Cathedral, Haras National du Pin equestrian center, or historic Granville.
  8. Explore France’s coastal beauty along Sentier littoral (coastal path) with spectacular views
  9. Catch a glimpse into local French life by visiting one of many small fishing villages in the area.
  10. End your day with a romantic sunset walk on Le Chausey Island before heading back to the mainland.

Taking into account all these elements together: The spiritual power intertwined with mystical legends along with remarkable architectural beauty plus strategically placed historical value; visiting Mont Saint-Michel could be likened to stepping into another world without actually doing so – making it essential for anyone looking for something unique yet awe-inspiring trekking experience or simply wanting an unforgettable journey full of mystery and wonderment alike!

If you’re ever in Normandy, France, be sure to add Mont Saint-Michel to your itinerary – you won’t be disappointed!

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