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Chapel on a volcanic slope - the oldest Christian heritage in France


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Chapel on a volcanic slope - the oldest Christian heritage in France


The ancient chapel, located on a volcanic slope in the French village of Le Puy, will interest every traveler. The unique location of the temple is mesmerizing, and in the evenings the view of the lonely church standing on the edge of the cliff suggests mystical stories, ghosts and horrible monsters. Despite the fact that the chapel is more than 1000 years old, services are still held there, and tourists can admire the ancient Christian shrines on display.

The history of the oldest French temple

Chapel Saint-Michel d'Aiguille is one of the oldest Christian churches located in France. However, there is very little reliable information about its construction in historical references. Excavations carried out by archaeologists have shown that in ancient times this place was a pagan temple where ancient ceremonies and rituals were performed. Later, on a volcanic rock, the ancient Romans worshiped the god Mercury. And the Christian chapel of Saint-Michel d'Aiguille appeared in 962 thanks to the Bishop of Puy, who thus wishes to celebrate the return of Saint Michael. In the 12th century, they decided to expand the temple and added several towers to it, additionally, redevelopment works were carried out, as a result of which auxiliary and basement rooms appeared in the chapel.

In the 20th century, archaeologists found a cache hiding priceless Christian relics of ancient times: wood icons, a metal cross with the image of the Mother of God, a Spanish crucifix, etc. For centuries they were kept in a special niche under the altar, and today they delight the eyes of visitors from all over the world.

Architectural features and interior decoration of the chapel

The interior of the temple surprises with its preserved primordiality. The interior of the chapel remains the same as in the 10th century, only minor details have changed. Despite the fact that the wall painting has lost its former brightness, the ministers of Saint-Michel d'Aiguille do not want to interfere with the natural course of things and restore the chapel. They believe that it is the untouched architecture of the temple that attracts believers and tourists.

The original bell tower of the chapel was destroyed in the distant 1275 and, despite the fact that it was restored at the end of the 19th century, it is difficult to say whether it matches the original structure.

The facade of the temple, decorated with multi-colored mosaics, shimmering in the light of the sun's rays, surprises every traveler with its beauty. Biblical scenes are carved into the stone walls at the very top of the tower, and a stunning panorama of the surroundings of the village of Le Puy opens from the volcanic rock, enhancing the magical impression that the chapel of Saint-Michel d'Aiguille makes.

Interesting Facts

  • The place where one of the oldest chapels is located is not only sacred, but also associated with history. In 1429, Jeanne d'Arc's mother came to Saint-Michel d'Aiguille to pray to God
  • According to legend, in 430, even before the illumination of the temple on the volcanic slope, the inhabitants of Le Puy saw the appearance of the Holy Virgin Mary
  • The chapel is a popular place for pilgrims, as it lies on the walking trail leading to the ancient shrine - Santiago de Compostela
  • There are 268 steps leading to the temple, carved right into the rock!

Anyone can visit the chapel on the volcanic slope. However, the best time to visit Saint-Michel d'Aiguille is early morning. Ticket price = 3 €.

Object type: chapel.

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