Experience the History of Mont-St-Michel


As one of the world's longest established UNESCO World Heritage sites, Mont-St-Michel is really worth a visit.

The medieval abbey is steeped in history and also has breathtaking views and fascinating architecture.

Another draw is its location, situated on the mouth of the Cousenon River between Normandy and Brittany, visitors can experience the thrill of crossing the thin natural bridge from the mainland to the island – making sure they are not caught out by the tide.

The rocky tidal island houses the medieval Benedictine Abbey and a steepled church that was once a well-known place for Christian pilgrimages before being turned into a prison and then transformed into a popular tourist attraction.

Its long and varied history makes Mont-St-Michel a big draw for tourists who want to find out more about its past.

According to local folklore, the island's first church was built in 708 AD by its namesake St Michael. He is alleged to have asked a Bishop to construct it and when he said no, St Michael burned a hole in his head with his finger.

Mont-St-Michel even features in the Bayeux Tapestry, which was created after the 1066 battle in which William the Conqueror took control of England.

In the 11th century, the monastery was built and it housed monks for the next few hundred years until the French Revolution when the buildings were transformed into a prison.

Then in 1836, Victor Hugo began to campaign for national recognition of the site and in 1863, the prison was closed for almost 150 years after Victor Hugo began his fight for recognition, his wish was granted as it became a Heritage Site in 1979.

Once you arrive at Mont-St-Michel, you will have a steep climb up hundreds of steps before reaching the pinnacle of the island. Some of the key sights include the medieval church of St Pierre, the arcaded cloisters and the Grand Degre.

Visitors can take part in a guided tour on their visit to Mont-St-Michel or just enjoy the views with their companions.

This area is known for its strong tides – and the waves crashing against the island's rocks can be a glorious sight, just be careful not to get caught out by the changing tides.

By Dipika Patel

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