Facts and Data
Unesco World heritage since: 1979
Size of heritage: 183 ha
- Buffer zone: 18,373 ha
Shortly after its foundation in the 9th century, the Benedictine abbey of Vézelay acquired the relics of St Mary Magdalene and since then it has been an important place of pilgrimage. St Bernard preached the Second Crusade there in 1146 and Richard the Lion-Hearted and Philip II Augustus met there to leave for the Third Crusade in 1190. With its sculpted capitals and portal, the Madeleine of Vézelay – a 12th-century monastic church – is a masterpiece of Burgundian Romanesque art and architecture.
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Vézelay, Church and Hill is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in the Department of Yonne, in the Bourgogne Region of France. This historic site is renowned for its exceptional architectural and cultural significance, attracting visitors from around the world. The site comprises the Basilica of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine and the surrounding hill, which together form a remarkable testament to medieval art and spirituality.
The history of Vézelay dates back to the 9th century when a Benedictine abbey was established on the hill. The abbey quickly gained prominence and became a major pilgrimage site during the Middle Ages. It was believed to house the relics of Mary Magdalene, making it an important destination for religious pilgrims.
In the 12th century, the construction of the current Basilica of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine began. This Romanesque masterpiece showcases the architectural brilliance of the period, with its intricate sculptures and stunning stained glass windows. The basilica became a symbol of religious fervor and attracted countless pilgrims, including famous figures such as Richard the Lionheart and Saint Bernard of Clairvaux.
Today, Vézelay, Church and Hill continues to captivate visitors with its historical and artistic significance. The Basilica of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine remains an active place of worship, hosting regular religious services and events. Its architectural beauty and spiritual ambiance create a unique atmosphere that enchants both believers and non-believers alike.
The basilica's interior is adorned with magnificent sculptures and frescoes, depicting biblical scenes and saints. The most famous of these is the Tympanum of the Last Judgment, a masterpiece of Romanesque sculpture that portrays the final judgment of souls. The delicate stained glass windows allow colorful light to filter into the nave, creating a mesmerizing effect.
The hill of Vézelay, surrounding the basilica, offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Visitors can explore the narrow medieval streets, lined with charming houses and artisan shops. The hill also features the remains of the abbey's fortifications, providing a glimpse into the site's defensive past.
Vézelay, Church and Hill is not only a place of religious and architectural significance but also a cultural hub. The site hosts various cultural events, including concerts, exhibitions, and conferences, attracting artists and intellectuals from all over the world. These events contribute to the vibrant atmosphere of Vézelay and further enhance its reputation as a center of artistic and intellectual exchange.
Vézelay, Church and Hill is a UNESCO World Heritage site that stands as a testament to the rich history and cultural heritage of France. Its Basilica of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine and the surrounding hill offer a captivating experience for visitors, combining architectural splendor, spiritual significance, and natural beauty. Whether one is drawn by religious devotion, artistic appreciation, or historical curiosity, Vézelay is a destination that leaves a lasting impression.
Hotels and places to stay
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Medium airport - 29 mi (47 km) Nevers-Fourchambault Airport
Medium airport - 44 mi (71 km) Troyes-Barberey Airport
Medium airport - 60 mi (98 km) Beaune-Challanges Airport
Medium airport - 62 mi (101 km) Dijon-Bourgogne Airport
Medium airport - 64 mi (104 km) Saint-Yan Airport
Medium airport - 74 mi (119 km) Vichy-Charmeil Airport
Medium airport - 91 mi (147 km) Roanne-Renaison Airport
Medium airport - 98 mi (158 km) Paris-Orly Airport
Large airport - 108 mi (174 km) Charles de Gaulle International Airport
Large airport - 120 mi (194 km) Geneva Cointrin International Airport
Large airport - 140 mi (226 km) Tours-Val-de-Loire Airport
Large airport - 141 mi (228 km) Brive-La Roche Airport
Large airport - 193 mi (312 km)
Bigger and popular cities in the wider vicinity are these:
These are some smaller cities that might be interesting. They are all rather close.
- Bois de la Madeleine
- Le Crot
- Les Herodats
- Precy-le Moult
- Vaux Donjon