Founded in 910, the Benedictine Cluny Abbey had an exceptional influence on Europe, both political, artistic and religious. Both a town and an abbey, Cluny, even without its great abbey, bears witness to the greatness of the monastic reform movement of the Middle Ages.
A monastic empire
Between the 10th and 12th centuries, Cluny Abbey became the centre of a European monastic empire whose authority extended over more than 1100 priories and more than 10 000 monks. Reports told how "Wherever the winds blow, Cluny Abbey is paid its dues". For three centuries, from Bernon to Pierre le Vénérable, remarkable abbots emerged as mediators and advisers to kings and the Pope, influencing politics and history.
The temporal power and spiritual authority of Cluny in its heyday enabled it to launch major projects such as the reconquest of Spain, organise major pilgrimages and intervene in the field of the arts.
The abbey extended its influence in the fields of music, painting and especially architecture, and all this in the service of an unparalleled liturgy. High barrel-vaulted naves, an elevation on three floors, historiated capitals, Cluny created and spread its Cluny style throughout Europe. In 1130, "Cluny III" was consecrated. This Major Ecclesia is a gigantic building, amazing in the harmony of its spaces. With five naves, an ambulatory choir surrounded by 6 chapels, the church has amazed visitors since the Middle Ages, who call it a "promenade of the angels."
An interactive tour
The visit is impressive, but it’s all a bluff! Augmented reality screens scattered throughout the abbey and the 3D film "Major Ecclesia" mean you can visualise what has today disappeared; "Clunyvision" reveals the past of the town centre.
Did you know?
Until the reconstruction of St Peter's Basilica in Rome in 1506, Cluny Abbey was for three centuries the seat of the largest medieval monastic order in the West.
Gothic barrel vaults, decorated capitals and a large tower ... Cluny’s Romanesque style is widely represented in Pays Beaunois, so be sure to visit: the Collegiate Basilica of Notre Dame in Beaune, the Church of Saint Nicolas in Meursault, the Church of Saint Germain in Monthelie, the Church of Saint Romain in the village of the same name, the Church of Our Lady of the Nativity in La Rochepot...