world heritage

Discover Fontenay abbey

Founded in 1118 by Saint Bernard, the Fontenay abbey is one of the oldest Cisterian monasteries in France. The Roman architecture confers a remarkable coherency onto this collection of conventional buildings. These have remained intact over more than height centuries of history. According to Saint Bernard rigorous plans, the visitor successively encounters the Abbot’s lodging, the dormitory, the cloister, the council room, the scriptovisual room, the heating room and the forge.

Abbaye de Fontenay : le capitulaire
Fontenay abbey : chapter house

In October 1118, Bernard de Fontaines, accompanied by a small group of monks, set off for the thick forest of Grand-Jailly, near Montbard, with the aim of setting up a new monastery.  For a true understanding of Fontenay, it is vital to grasp the perfect harmony of the mineral and vegetable kingdoms. The construction of Fontenay church began in 1139 and finish in 1147.

From the 12th to the 14th century, Fontenay enjoyed a period of great prosperity. On 29 October 1790, the eight remaining monks left Fontenay. Transformed into a paper mill during the French Revolution until 1906. From 1906 to 1913 massive cleaning work was undertaken to free the Abbey of parasite structures from the papermaking period.

The private property of the Fontenay abbey was classified as a part of the World Heritage in 1981 by UNESCO.

La Vierge de Fontenay
The Virgin of Fontenay

The Virgin of Fontenay.

In the northern transept arm,stands one of the most remarkable examples of late 13th century Burgundian statuary.

Mary crowned, carries the child Jesus on her left arm.In her right hand, she originally held a sceptre, which has since disappeared.

The statue was sold to a resident of a little village during the French Revolution ans was exposed in the village cemetery for more than a century before returned to the abbey in 1929 at the initiative of the Aynard family.

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