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The Chapel of Saint Michel d’Aiguilhe in France

Ann Moises

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  • Saint-Michel d’Aiguilhe is the 4th best monument in France due to its remarkable location.
  • The chapel, which was dedicated to Michael the Archangel, was built on an extinct volcano.
  • Apart from the breathtaking, panoramic view it offers, the chapel’s impressive masonry and beautiful frescoes attract tourists and pilgrims alike from all over the globe.

Built in 969 AD by Bishop Godescalc and the deacon Trianus, the Saint-Michel d’Aiguilhe chapel near Le Puy-en-Velay, France, looks surreal on top of a steep, rock formation. In fact, its name literally translates to ‘St. Michael on a needle.’

Because of its remarkable location, people consider the chapel mysterious and sacred.

The rock formation itself was revered as a holy place for thousands of years. Romans built a prehistoric dolmen there and dedicated it to Mercury.
Photo: eishier via Flickr
Christians later sanctified the rock to Michael the Archangel, the patron saint of many high places in Europe.
Photo: nicolas. vogt via Flickr
The chapel stands 279 feet high, and people must climb the 268 winding stairs sculpted into the rock to reach the top.
Photo: Regina_Hoer via Flickr
Visitors don’t have to worry about the climb though, because the steps are wide and benches are available along the way for those who need to rest.
Photo: hippoline via Flickr
A spectacular, panoramic view awaits those who reach the chapel.
Photo: Mike Rowe via Flickr
The calm and peaceful atmosphere here is ideall for pilgrims who wish to pray or meditate.
Tourists are also impressed with the masonry, which pays homage to the grand mosque of Cordoba.
Photo: mcafio via Flickr
In 1275, the chapel’s bell tower fell down and it wasn’t reconstructed until the 19th century.
The 10th and 12th century frescoes were exposed when the plaster in the chapel was removed in about 1850.

Saint-Michel d’Aiguilhe’s popularity increased since it became an opening point for Santiago de Campostela, a famous pilgrimage destination. Many pilgrims visit St. Michel’s Chapel first before beginning their journey.

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