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Mont-Saint-Michel

Mont-Saint-Michel, a small island off the southwest coast of Normandy, attracts pilgrims and travelers for over 1000 years. Dam with marked road connects the mainland with the island of Mont Saint-Michel. It rises abruptly over the flat sandy plain that is smooth strong tide rushing into the Bay. In good weather this conical rock, with a Cathedral, monastic buildings, gardens, terraces and military fortifications, visible from afar. Many centuries ago the island was part of the mainland. In Roman times it was called Grave hill – probably the Celts used it as a burial site. Here the druids worshipped the sun. This ritual has been preserved by the Romans. According to one of the legends of those times, mountain Grave – the burial place of Julius Caesar, which rests in a gold coffin at the feet of the Emperor gold sandals. In the V century the earth has settled, and after another 100 years the mountain became an island. At high tide the sea is completely cut off from the mainland. There could only be reached by a dangerous path, marked by high stakes. Soon the peaceful and secluded island attracted the attention of the monks, who built there a small chapel and remained the sole inhabitants until the year 708, when, according to legend, will take anything, Branscome Bishop (later Saint. Ober), appeared in a dream the Archangel Michael and ordered to erect a chapel on the Burial hill. Initially, Chief creative, undertook as doubted whether he interpreted the vision. The angel returned and repeated the order. Only after the third phenomenon when the messenger of God had to knock him on the head with the finger, Ober began construction on a rocky island. His work was accompanied by a series of miraculous phenomena: the proposed location of the Foundation were outlined by the morning dew, stolen cow arrived at the place where it was supposed to lay the first stone of the granite, touching the baby leg was out of place which prevented the construction of the boulder. The Archangel Michael appeared again to indicate the source of fresh water.

The island was given a new name – Mont-Saint-Michel (Mount St. Michael). He soon became a place of pilgrimage, and in 966 on its top was built the Benedictine monastery, which became home to 50 monks. The construction of the Abbey Church, which still crowns the top of a cliff, was started in the year 1020. Because of the difficulties associated with construction on such steep cliffs, and the work was only completed after more than a hundred years. Over time collapsed parts of buildings. This meant that large fragments of the original Church needed restoration. Despite some alterations, this structure to our days largely retained its Romanesque style with its rounded arches, thick walls and massive arches, while Chora, built in the XV century, executed in the Gothic style.

The monastery Church is just one of the wonders of Mont Saint-Michel. The second came at the behest of the French king Philip II, who decided to make amends for the fact that in 1203 burned part of the Church, trying to win back the island from the Dukes of Normandy, its traditional owners. So there was a new miracle —La-Marva Gothic monastery, erected on the North side of the island between the years 1211 and 1228. La Merva consists of two main two-storey units. On the first floor on the East side of the room, where the monks give alms and provide accommodation to pilgrims. Above them there is a room for guests – main guest room in which the Abbot takes visitors. In this room are two huge fireplaces on one the monks cooked the food, and the other was for heating. The upper floor is given over to the monastery refectory.

West side La-Mellea includes a storeroom, above which was situated the hall for manuscripts, where monks letter by letter copied manuscripts. In 1469, when king Louis XI founded the order of the knights of St. Michael, this hall is divided into four parts by rows of stone columns, became the meeting room of the order.

On the top floor of the West side is a covered gallery, as though suspended between heaven and earth. This haven of tranquility. Two rows of staggered columns supporting graceful arches, decorated with floral ornaments and sculptures human faces. Mont-Saint-Michel has not always been a place of spiritual peace. In the middle ages the island became an arena of struggle of successive kings and Dukes. At the beginning of the XV century, during the hundred years war it was fortified and withstood numerous attacks by the British, as well as the onset of the Huguenots in 1591. However, the monastic community gradually fell into decay, and when, during the French revolution the monastery was closed, there were only seven monks (Christian worship was revived only in 1922). During the reign of Napoleon the island, renamed Liberty island, became a prison and remained with it until 1863, when it was declared a national treasure. And in the monastery Church and the monastery were carried out extensive restoration work. Today in France, with Mont-Saint-Michel as one of the main tourist attractions can be compared with only Paris and Versailles.