Saint Michel Abbey, an Ocean Fortress of Medieval Times
Saint-Michel Abbey is located on a tidal island in Normandy, North-West of France. It is one of the country’s religious landmarks and it is situated one kilometer away (just over a half-mile) from the coast, within the Atlantic ocean.
Giant waves, some of them measuring over 14 meters (46 ft) in height, moving sands and a path that appears only when nature dictates it, these were all associated over time with divine obstacles.
A legend says that “St. Michael the Archangel appeared to St. Aubert, bishop of Avranches, in 708 and instructed him to build a church on the rocky islet. Aubert repeatedly ignored the angel’s instruction, until St. Michael burned a hole in the bishop’s skull with his finger“. By year 709, the construction was finalized and so a medieval world wonder was born. (info via wikipedia)
According to Wikipedia, there are 41 people living in the Island of Mount St Michel. The medieval architecture has a particular inviting charm for the inhabitants and visitors as well.
Because of the tides, the natural road which leads to St Michel was either revealed or covered (at low or high tide). Projet Mont-Saint-Michel started in 2006 and completed removed the sediments which created the natural path and made Mont Saint Michel an island again.
The Abbey has a rich and fascinating History, The wealth and influence of Saint Michel Abbey were so impressive, that during medieval times it became the third most important pilgrimage area, after Rome and Compostela.
During the Hundred Years’ War, repeated assaults on the island were made by the English, but the abbey’s fortifications resisted in defiance.
Today, the island of Saint-Michel is open for visiting and it can be reached by taking a train or a car from Paris (4,5 hours).
A warning is issued which states that no one visiting on their own should reach the abbey by water due to high waves and quicksand!