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History of Mont Saint-Michel

Founded, according to tradition, following three dreams St Aubert, bishop of Avranches, had in the year 708, from the outset Mont Saint-Michel was a great pilgrimage centre. The pre-Romanesque church was built before the year one thousand.

In the 11th century, the Romanesque abbey church was founded over a set of crypts where the rock comes to an apex, and the first monastery buildings were built up against its north wall.

In the 12th century, the Romanesque monastery buildings were extended to the west and south.

In the 13th century, a donation by the king of France, Philip Augustus, in the wake of his conquest of Normandy, enabled a start to be made on the Gothic section of the “Merveille”: two three-storey buildings, crowned by the cloister and the refectory.

In the 14th century, the Hundred Years War made it necessary to protect the abbey behind a set of military constructions, enabling it to hold out against a siege lasting 30 years.

In the 15th century, the Gothic Flamboyant chancel replaced the Romanesque chancel of the abbey church.

Finally, work continued up till the 18th century to build the abbey living quarters which make up the south front of the abbey. After being used as a prison during the Revolution and the Second Empire, the abbey was turned over to the Historic Monuments department in 1874, since when it has been open to the public all year round.

With the celebration of the monastic's 1000th anniversary, in the year 1966 a religious community moved back to what used to be the abbatial dwellings, perpuating prayer and welcome the original vocation of this place. Friars and sisters from "Les Fraternités Monastiques de Jerusalem" have been ensuring a spiritual presence since the year 2001.

At the same time as the abbey was developping a village grew up from the Middle Age. It flourished on the south-east side of the rock surrounded by walls dated for the most part from the Hundred Years war. This village has always a commercial vocation.

UNESCO has classed the Mont Saint-Michel as a world heritage in 1979 and this mecca of tourism welcomes more than three million visitors a year.