Visit Cluny (Burgundy, France)
Cluny Abbey is an important abbey in the Saône-et-Loire department of Burgundy, to the north-east of Macon.
History of Cluny Abbey
Founded in the early 10th century, the first abbey was built around 927 - and replaced 70 years later by a more imposing abbey built for the relics of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. The church was replaced again towards the end of the 11th century, with the buildings that we see today in part dating from this third reconstruction.
Because of the presence of the relics of these two important saints, for the two centuries from 910 when the monastery was founded Cluny was second only to Rome in the religious influence it held over the Europe of the time, and the abbots from Cluny were important players on the international political scene.
From that time on the power of Rome over the abbey increased, which also had financial difficulties, and the authority of the abbey started to diminish. The wars of Religion further reduced the importance of the abbey.
After the revolution the abbey grounds and furnishings were sold and the demolition of the abbey started and a great deal of the original large roman style church no longer exists. As a result it is the sense of history that you get from a visit to Cluny Abbey that almost as important as the place itself, attractive as it is.
Although the church at Cluny, once the largest in the western world, was largely dismantled by 1810 the parts that remain are still significant and interesting, and give an indication of the original grandeur of Cluny.
Of the church itself parts of the transepts and belltower remain while among the other remaining buildings you can see the granary, and parts of the towers that stood either side of the entrance. Inside the transept you can see a chapel with some intricate stonework.
Whilst not much of the original abbey remains some impressive flat screens have been added which you can turn round to "see" different views of the abbey as it would have looked originally.
The granary has an interesting small museum inside with some of the stone carvings saved when the abbey was dismantled.
The cloister that we see today was added in the 17th century.
The highlight of a visit now is an ascent of the 'Tour des Fromages' for great views over the abbey itself, the village and the surrounding Burgundy countryside. This also has an augmented reality screen allowing you to get an idea of the scope of the abbey buildings before they were dismanteled.
There are a couple of other interesting towers, the Tour Fabry built in the 14th century to defend the adjacent gate through the surrounding walls. Also the Tour ronde built in the 13th century to protect the north-eastern side of the monastery.
The museum of art and archaeology at the abbey (entrance included in the price of abbey admission) is both interesting and instructive as an aid to understanding what the abbey was like 800 years ago. In the 16th century Palace of Jean-de-Bourbon you can see further examples of stonework that once formed part of the abbey.
Elsewhere in Cluny
The village of Cluny grew up around the abbey itself, and is a very pretty village, with a few streets of old and attractive houses. The town Hall is in a building that was the abbatiale palace in the 16th century. The Hotel Dieu should also be visited, time permitting - built in 1646 it houses a chapel, and the rooms where the sick were treated.
The market in Cluny is held on a saturday morning.
For horse lovers, there is a French 'Haras National' behind the abbey. A national centre for breeding and training purebred horses, the haras can be visited and there are frequently events held where the horses can be admired 'in action'.
Note: Cluny Abbey is a listed National Monument in France.
Photos of Cluny
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Tourist classifications for Cluny
Cluny is classified as a historical protected town centre' (secteur sauvegardé)
Address: Cluny, Mâcon, Saone-et-Loire, Burgundy, 71250 || GPS: latitude 46.435, longitude 4.66
Map of Cluny & places nearby
Highlights close by
Suggested tourist attractions to visit near Cluny, France
- Abbaye de Cluny (Cluny) - religious monument
- Eglise de Jalogny (Jalogny) - religious monument (3km)
- Eglise de Saint Blaise (Mazille) - religious monument (6km)
- Eglise de Saint Denis (Massy) - religious monument (7km)
- Chapelle aux Moines (Berze-la-Ville) - religious monument (11km)
- Eglise de Saint Martin (Chapaize) - religious monument (15km)
- Roche de Solutre / Roche de Vergisson - grand site of france (16km)
- Eglise de Saint Pierre de Brancion (Martailly-les-Brancion) - religious monument (16km)
- Macon - ville fleurie 4* (20km)
- Tournus - secteur sauvegarde (24km)
Market days in Cluny: Regular market(s) are held in Cluny each Saturday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Cluny (Francais)