Saint Michel d’Aiguilhe, the chapel on top of a volcanic rock
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Saint Michel d’Aiguilhe, the chapel on top of a volcanic rock

Cappella di Saint-Michel d’Aiguilhe,Francia

Saint Michel d’Aiguilhe, the chapel on top of a volcanic rock

The chapel of Saint-Michel d’Aiguilhe is located in the French commune of Aiguilhe, north of the village of Le Puy-en-Velay. It stands on top of an 82-meter volcanic hill, and is one of the most important historic Romanesque Catholic chapels in the country. Dedicated to San Michele, this chapel is believed to have come about in 950 by one of the first pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela. The construction was initiated by Bishop Gotescalco, who laid the first stone in 962.

The sanctuary of San Michel d'Aiguilhe is enveloped in an atmosphere of spirituality and can be reached via 269 steps carved into a rock. The path is tiring but offers areas to rest and stone benches to sit from time to time. When you reach the top, you are met with an archway and beautiful mosaic of multi-colored stones, and of course a stunning view. The landscape from this height is breathtaking as you can see the natural spiers that dominate the entire landscape of Puy-en-Velay. On one peak stands the fortress of Polignac, and on another the church of Notre-Dame de France with the statue of the Virgin Mary, and finally the castle of Lavoûte.

In the twelfth century, the area welcomed a significant number of pilgrims and the chapel was enlarged using all the space available at the top of the rock. Sometime afterwards, magnificent frescoes of the 10th and 12th centuries were found during a renovation that led to the removal of the internal plaster. They were restored and brought back to their original state. In 1955, archaeologists discovered a real treasure - a series of sacred objects that today are exhibited and well-guarded by an iron fence. This chapel is an unmissable destination, a journey to the most secret region of France, where numerous architectural beauties have contributed to making a territory rich in ancient volcanic chimneys and basalt columns covered by centuries-old vegetation, both unique and inimitable.

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