Chapelle des moines de Berzé-la-Ville

Discover a masterpiece of 12th century mural painting.

Chapelle des moines de Berzé-la-Ville, doorway
Photo: David Bordes / Centre des monuments nationaux

The origins of the chapel

The chapel was built in the early 12th century on the initiative of the Abbot of Cluny Hugues de Semur, who was also behind the construction of the third abbey church at Cluny. It was originally part of a priory and is nowadays the only remaining vestige open to the public. It is formed of a lower chapel where numerous traces of polychromy can still be seen, and an upper chapel famous for its unique mural paintings.

Chapelle des moines de Berzé-la-Ville, mural paintings in the apse
Photo: David Bordes / Centre des monuments nationaux

Decorative painting

The apse is painted from floor to ceiling: on the vault, the figure of Christ, surrounded by apostles, presents his law as he entrusts the keys to St Peter and the book to St Paul, the two patron saints of Cluny Abbey; the wise and foolish virgins are depicted around the windows along with the martyrdom of Saint Blaise and Saint Vincent; in the lower register are the little-known Eastern and Western saints whose relics were kept in the Cluny Abbey treasury and who appear on its liturgical calendar. This decoration are the only surviving examples of the monumental painting that existed when Cluny Abbey was at the height of its power.

Chapelle des moines de Berzé-la-Ville, detail of the representation of the martyrdom Saint Vincent of Saragossa
Photo: David Bordes / Centre des monuments nationaux

The chapel through the ages

In the wake of the French Revolution, the lower chapel was used as a cellar while the upper chapel was converted into a barn. The paintings were covered with plaster to protect them from being destroyed. After the paintings were rediscovered in 1887 by Philibert Jolivet, the parish priest, the chapel was listed as a historical monument in 1893. It was acquired by the Académie de Mâcon after the Second World War, in 1947, thanks to the British archaeologist Dame Joan Evans.

The chapelle de Berzé was opened to the public as of April 2017 thanks to the Centre des monuments nationaux.

Chapelle des moines de Berzé-la-Ville, detail of the decoration in the apse
Photo: David Bordes / Centre des monuments nationaux

Practical information

Full price: €3.50; Reduced price - groups: €3.30

Combined tickets:
With Cluny Abbey: Full price €11; Reduced price – groups €9
With the Château de Berzé-le-Châtel: Full price €9; Group price €8

Opening times:
April, September and October: 9:30am -12:30pm and 2pm -5:30pm
May to August: 9:30am -12:30pm and 2pm -6:30pm

Visitors are free to walk around the chapel with the aid of a brochure available in French, English, German, Dutch and Italian.
Guided tours for groups and other visitors: ask at the chapel reception desk

Address and contact details:
Chapelle des Moines
71960 Berzé-la-Ville
+33 (0)3 85 36 66 52

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