Saint Emilion -  Medieval town in the Bordeaux wine region

UNESCO World Heritage site

Monks carved an entire church from a single piece of limestone over the course of 300 years

 starting in the 9th century. Today  the greatest monolith church in Europe.

 

Saint-Emilion is located 35 km north-east from Bordeaux.  This medieval town stands proudly at the top of a hill overlooking the Dordogne valley, and was built in the shape of an amphitheatre.


Saint Emilion is an incredible open-air museum. The most surprising remains are with no doubt its underground monuments: galleries covering more than 70 ha.  and the breathtaking monolithic church, dug out of solid limestone.
 
This is not the unique jewel that will move you: fascinating Romanesque churches and ruins are stretching all along the steep and narrow streets.
 
Emilion the Hermit is still with us ...
In the eighth Century, a Breton monk named Emilian first came to what is now known as Saint-Emilion. He left his family and native region to take holy orders. Originally victim of great injustice, he always reacted by being extremely kind. Bursar in a Benedictine monastery, Emilian was much praised and respected because of his great virtue. He decided to withdraw from society and went to live in the forest that used to cover Saint-Emilion’s hill. Emilian became a hermit and devoted himself to God. He performed miracles, such as restoring sight to a blind woman and died on January 6th 767.

The fortifications
Seven gates which once protected the town: 
Porte Bourgeoise to the north, Porte Brunet to the east, Porte Bouqueyre to the south-east, Porte Sainte-Marie to the south, Porte Saint-Martin to the west, Porte du Chapitre to the north-west and Porte de la Cadène inside the village. Which of Saint-Emilion’s seven gateways will you go through to feel the pulse of the town?
The spirit of the Stones

You will never be alone in Saint-Emilion. You will be accompanied everywhere by the spirit of the town and the memory of its founding father. Saint-Emilion is imbued with religious, military and political history... and beyond all this is the omnipresent spirit of the stone - the essence of Saint-Emilion. The stones hold the town’s secrets and express centuries of history through architectural splendour. Something remains sure: the buildings can guide you, like a mentor, to the soul of Saint-Emilion.
Underground : monuments sheltered from time


The hermitage, (the oldest monument of the village), the ossuary, the catacombs, and the monolithic church were all carved out of solid limestone rock, as were the tens of kilometers of underground galleries. Among them, those which were turned into wine cellars or museums are accessible to visitors.

Wherever you go in the town, you will be struck by Saint-Emilion’s inherent harmony. All the houses have the same warm colour, as they are made from luminous, ochre limestone extracted from the local subsoil. The roofs are all similar, they are covered by «Roman» arched tiles. The entire town is now protected to preserve this harmony.

 

Slide show of Saint Emilion

 

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