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Montmajour Abbey

Prestigious monument UNESCO World Heritage, the Benedictine monastery of Montmajour, established on a rocky island surrounded by a swamp two kilometers from Arles, was founded or rather confirmed in 948.

Places to visit

Chapel of St Peter

The chapel of St Peter is the oldest extant building, erected in the second quarter or third of the 11th century in one of the rocky shelters in the cliff. The seemingly awkward choice of the site and the semi-troglodyte construction, suggest that the natural cave had been used previously by the community. The chapel consists of a barrel-vaulted main nave supported by round arches resting on ashlar pillars flanked by columns the capitals of which, being adorned either with both foliate capitals loosely inspired by the Corinthian prototype or with geometric interlace. On the east side, the main nave is terminated by a vaulted apse. A passage nearby, flanked by an ornate pillar, lead to a series of narrow and low chambers equally built into the natural hollow. The same wall also includes a separate vaulted vestibule on the western side which was designed as a burial place with graves carved into the bedrock alongside the northern wall.

Notre-Dame abbey church, apse and crypt

The Abbey Church was built in the 12th century on a ‘crypt’ of the 11th century, also called ‘church’. After 1016 and before 1030, Rambert, seventh abbot of Montmajour, invites Archbishop Pons to dedicate to the Holy Cross this “crypt of stunning construction”. In the 12th century, the name of Riculfus (RICUL) is engraved on ashlar walls of the central chapel of the Romanesque crypt, later dedicated to Notre-Dame. It probably refers to abbot Riculfus, nephew of Teucinde and Gontard, and bishop of Fréjus who was elected abbot of Montmajour about the year 996. This type of commemorative inscription might suggest that graves in the crypt of the earlier church were then located on the same spot or nearby. Some columns, of a similar type as those found in St Peter chapel, were re-used in the windows of the main apse of Notre-Dame abbey church. This suggests that they were saved from destruction when the 11th century church was pulled down for the new church.

Nearby locations

Castrum du Verdelet

Rupestral archeological site (10th-12th centuries).

Places to visit Nearby locations

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