The Abbey Of Cluny In Burgundy: A Place Steeped In History

The Abbey of Cluny, founded in 909 or 910 by William of Aquitaine, is considered the queen of abbeys. In the Middle Ages, this emblematic monument of Burgundy extended its influence and prominence throughout Europe. Its abbey church was the largest church in the world until its gradual demolition starting in 1798. We invite you to discover the history of what was once the most powerful abbey in Christendom.

History of the Abbey of Cluny

The Abbey of Cluny, located in Burgundy, in the department of Saône-et-Loire, was founded in 909 or 910 by William of Aquitaine. By the 10th and 11th centuries, a prosperous town had developed around the abbey.

A symbol of monastic renewal in the West, this Benedictine abbey was a leading intellectual center in the Middle Ages. The mother house of more than a thousand monasteries, it extended its influence and reach across all of Western Europe. It disseminated the Rule of Saint Benedict, advocating prayer, work, and reading.

Its abbey church was the largest in all of Western Christendom before the construction of St. Peter's in Rome. After reaching its peak in the 12th century, the abbey began a long decline, facing the rise of the Cistercian order.

Unfortunately, at the time of the Revolution, the monks were expelled. In 1798, the abbey was sold to serve as a stone quarry, its archives were burned, and the invaluable library of the Benedictine monks was ransacked.

However, part of this exceptional site still remains, bearing witness to nine centuries of monastic life. Today, the buildings of the Abbey welcome thousands of visitors and house the prestigious Ecole d'Arts et Métiers – Paris Tech.

Visit the Abbey of Cluny

The town of Cluny, located near Mâcon, has preserved a prestigious heritage, including:
• numerous monastic buildings;
• a museum of art and archaeology housing significant works of Romanesque civil sculpture;
• a monastic borough rich in Romanesque and Gothic houses;
• two churches, Saint-Marcel and Notre-Dame;
• a majestic Hôtel-Dieu;
• a superb panorama of the abbey from the top of the Tour des Fromages.

Visiting the Cluny Abbey will allow you to discover the superb elevation of the transept of this gigantic abbey church, the cloister, and the 18th-century conventual buildings.
In the "Farinier," you can admire a series of capitals testifying to Cluny's splendor.

The Museum of Art and Archaeology (whose access is free with the entrance ticket to the abbey) presents significant works of medieval sculpture from the abbey church and the monastic borough. You can also admire paintings, furniture, and books there.

You will find all the practical information to prepare your visit to this jewel of French heritage on the official website below.

News from the Abbey of Cluny

The Abbey of Cluny, whose charter of foundation was signed on September 11, 910, celebrated its 1100th anniversary in 2010.

On this occasion, Cluny, the Abbey of Baume-les-Messieurs (from where Abbot Bernon set out to found Cluny) and other partner sites (churches, abbeys, museums, municipal halls, cultural centers...) organized events until November 2010.

More recently, in September 2023, this more than millennial site ranked second in the television contest "Le Monument préféré des Français" broadcast on France 3.

Since the Jean de Bourbon chapel was restored and reopened to the public in July 2023, visitors can discover contemporary works there: altars and stained glass windows created by the artist Sarkis. These creations, dotted with colorful drops, engage in an astonishing dialogue between modern art and the flamboyant Gothic style of the monument.

Author: Audrey
Copyright image: Bonhomme
Tags: cluny, monastic, church, Burgundy, Benedictine, Romanesque, sculpture, town, Gothic, heritage, monument, Middle Ages, Aquitaine, medieval, archaeology, capitals, cloister, Transept, Cluny Abbey, Elevation, furniture, French, stained glass windows, chapel, France 3, television, millennial, Abbot, Baume-les-Messieurs, September 11, charter, panorama, Hôtel-Dieu, Europe, Saône-et-Loire, symbol, WEST, The mother, monasteries, Western Europe, Saint Benedict, prayer, Cistercian, stone quarry, library, Paris, Mâcon, Rome, Notre-Dame, majestic,
More informations:
In French: L'abbaye de Cluny en Bourgogne : un lieu chargé d'histoire
En español: La abadía de Cluny en Borgoña: un lugar cargado de historia
In italiano: L'abbazia di Cluny in Borgogna: un luogo carico di storia
Auf Deutsch: Die Abtei von Cluny in Burgund: ein geschichtsträchtiger Ort
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