A must-see

article | Reading time5 min

The imposing remains of the great abbey

Follow the descent of the nave to discover the impressive height of the 12th century Cluniac abbey!

the great transept

The great transept and the bell tower of the Eau Bénite are the only parts of the great 12th century abbey church still preserved in elevation.

This light-filled space and its height of nearly 30 meters were meant to evoke the presence of the divine. This gigantism gives to imagine the scale of the Maior ecclesia which was the highest abbey for almost 400 years before being dethroned by Saint-Pierre of Rome in the 16th century.

Bras sud du grand transept de Cluny
Bras sud du grand transept de Cluny

© Centre des monuments nationaux / David Bordes

The chapels

They illustrate different periods because the absidiole more to the south has kept its originalRomanesque aspect whereas the chapel of Saint Martial, where one can see a cupboard and a liturgical pool, was rebuilt by the abbot Pierre de Chastellux in the 14th century to respond to the Gothic style of the time.

Did you know that?

The south and middle spans correspond to the first phase of the construction site.

Croquis de la nef de l'abbaye
Croquis de la nef de la Maior ecclesia

© Centre des monuments nationaux

The bell tower of the Eau Bénite

The Bell Tower of the Holy Water is the only remaining bell tower of the Maior ecclesia, which had four.

It is octagonal in plan and crowns the dome of the central bay of the south arm of the great transept. Built in the second half of the twelfth century, it has a particularly careful elevation, composed of two levels of bays. The first level is decorated with a motif of crosses while the second is decorated with a motif of pearls.

Did you know?

The spire of the pyramid-shaped tower, rebuilt by Abbot Jean de Bourbon in the 15th century, was reproduced on several Cluniac bell towers, including that of Paray-le-Monial.

Clochers de l'abbaye de Cluny
Clocher de l'Eau Bénite et de l'horloge

© Centre des monuments nationaux / Patrick Tourneboeuf

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