Art & Architecture

article | Reading time3 min

The abbey church

If the abbey church is the highest point of Mont-Saint-Michel, it is also the starting point of a real architectural labyrinth.

An unusual building

A church at the top

The abbey church of Mont-Saint-Michel is built at the top of the rock, it culminates at 80m height and is composed of a platform of 80m length.

This feat was made possible by the ingenuity of the builders of the Middle Ages, who built upstream all around the rock four crypts that support the summit building.

Vue aérienne de l'abbaye du Mont-Saint-Michel. En arrière-plan on peut voir le pont-passerelle et la baie. Prise de vue depuis le nord-ouest.

Christian Gluckman – Centre des monuments nationaux

A clever maze of stairs

The abbey church is the epicenter of a real maze of stairs. Indeed, from this space it is possible to gain height by accessing the terraces of the choir, but also to enter the depths of the abbey by accessing Notre-Dame des Trente Cierges or Notre-Dame-Sous-Terre via the staircase known as Ranulphe.

Escalier dit de Ranulphe, qui relie la nef de l'église abbatiale à la chapelle Saint-Etienne et à l'escalier Nord-Sud.

DR - Centre des monuments nationaux

A resistance to any test

This ensemble can also be understood in another way: one can see behind the expression "architectural labyrinth", the tangle of the many phases of construction and reconstruction of this church, often struck by the blow of fate. Part of the nave was destroyed, the two aisles of the central nave do not have the same type of vaults, the Romanesque choir collapsed and was rebuilt a few years later...

Vue sur une partie du choeur de l'église abbatiale, reconnaissable à son triforium et à ses fenêtres hautes. En arrière plan, vue sur la voûte de la croisée du transept, ainsi que sur la voûte en berceau de la nef.

DR - Centre des monuments nationaux

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