Collegiate Church of Saint-Martin, Pays de la Loire
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The Collegiale Saint-Martin in Angers is one of the most important historic monuments in the town, and the building includes elements from various historic periods from the last 1500 years as well as a display of religious statues and artworks.
Explore the Collegiale Saint-Martin in Angers
France This Way comment: the collegiale Saint-Martin is quite small and doesn't take long to explore but the combination of historic building, the crypt and the religious art works make it very interesting to visit. Although I think it might be less interesting for children, admission is free for under 18s so you have nothing to lose taking them in!
As you enter the Collegiale Saint-Martin you are given a guide that explains the important historical stages of the building as well as the important works of art: unless you are an expert in religious architecture and art this is an indispensable guide!
The main nave in front of you as you enter dates from the early 11th century, and is an early example of roman style architecture. In this part of the building you can also see some very ancient sarcophagi and slate coffins.
When you reach the transept you can see arches built in brick, parts of an earlier 10th century church. The dome in the transept is from the 10th century and supported by columns: in the 13th century the ceiling was painted to give the impression that architectural ribbing supports the dome.
Behind here is an 18th century sacristy that now displays items discovered on the site that date from the last 1500 years. The main choir at the rear of the church was extended in the 12th century, and is in the gothic style. The Angel Chapel to the left of the choir was also added in this period and has some lovely capital stones at the base of the roof structure as well as faint traces of the original colourful paintings that once decorated the chapel.
From the transept you can descend into the crypt of the Collegial Saint-Martin. First you will see the mould that was used for casting the bell of the church, then various ancient parts of buildings and tombs that are from earlier versions of churches on the same site, also up to 1500 years old. There are also traces of an ancient road and gallo-roman buildings.
After the revolution at the end of the 18th century the monks were forced to leave and the building was used for various purposes such as a tobacco warehouse and for stocking wood, and as part of a school. It fell into disrepair and new buildings were built imposing on the original building.
In 1986 the owners recognised the importance of the building and because they did not have the money to carry out the renovations they sold it to the town for a noinal payment. The building has been extensively restored over the last 20 years.
Throughout the collegiale you can see religious statues, two from excavations in this building and others brought here from across the Anjou region. While many of the statues are from the 17th century there are others from earlier periods. Most of the statues are made from terracotta, a speciality in the region in the 17th century.
I will not list all the artworks here but suggest you pay particular attention to:
- the beautiful sadness in the relief of a pieta (Virgin and Christ) in the right transept
- the three busts in the choir section by Gervais Delabarre, all that remains of the original statues
- the Virgin getting ready to feed her child, also in the choir section and a lovely work of art even if the original paint is now missing
- the remarkable statue of the Virgin to the left of the nave near the transept, in painted wood and dating from the 14th century (less detailed than the later works but in my opinion much more beautiful)
Visiting the Collegiale Saint-Martin in Angers
The collegiale is in the east of Angers city centre, on Rue Saint-Martin.
The Collegiale Saint-Martin is open all year, but closed on important bank holidays. From June to September it is open 10:00 - 19:00 and from October to May it is open 13:00 - 18:00. Admission costs three euros.
If there is also a temporary exhibition in the collegiale when you visit the price of admission is slightly higher: this applied when we visited and to be honest I have to say that I thought the temporary exhibits detracted from the visit rather than enhanced it, but that will no doubt vary with the exhibition...
There are several other interesting historic monuments in Angers, notably the cathedral of Angers and the Chateau d'Angers where you can see the Apocalypse tapestry. See our Angers guide for more details of the town.
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Address: Angers, Maine-et-Loire, Pays de la Loire, 49000, France || GPS: latitude 47.46893, longitude -0.5519
Plan your visit to Collegiate Church of Saint-Martin, Pays de la Loire
Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Angers: town of art and history
- Chateau d'Angers: national monument
- Île Saint-Aubin: site of natural beauty (4km)
- Jardins du Pin: remarkable garden (24km)
- Chenille-Change: ville fleurie 4* (27km)
- Eglise de Notre Dame (Chenehutte-Treves-Cunault): religious monument (28km)
- Prieuré de Notre-Dame de Cunault (Chenehutte-Treves-Cunault): religious monument (28km)
- Aubigne-sur-Layon: ville fleurie 4* (29km)