Fodor's Expert Review Abbaye St-Martin du Canigou

Vernet-les-Bains Religious Building/Site/Shrine Fodor's Choice

Visitors tackling a steep half-hour climb from the parking area, come to make a pilgrimage—esthetic or spiritual—to this celebrated medieval abbey. It's one of the most photographed in Europe thanks to its sky-kissing location atop a triangular promontory at an altitude of nearly 3,600 feet. St-Martin du Canigou's breathtaking mountain setting was due, in part, to an effort to escape the threat of marauding Saracens from the Middle East. Constructed in 1009 by Count Guifré of Cerdagne, then damaged by an earthquake in 1428 and abandoned in 1783, the abbey was diligently (perhaps too diligently) restored by the Bishop of Perpignan early in the 20th century. The oldest parts are the cloisters and the two churches, of which the lower church, dedicated to Notre-Dame-sous-Terre, is the most ancient. Rising above is a stocky, fortified bell tower. Masses are sung daily—Easter Mass is especially joyous and moving—but the Abbey can only be visited by daily guided tour; reservations... READ MORE

Visitors tackling a steep half-hour climb from the parking area, come to make a pilgrimage—esthetic or spiritual—to this celebrated medieval abbey. It's one of the most photographed in Europe thanks to its sky-kissing location atop a triangular promontory at an altitude of nearly 3,600 feet. St-Martin du Canigou's breathtaking mountain setting was due, in part, to an effort to escape the threat of marauding Saracens from the Middle East. Constructed in 1009 by Count Guifré of Cerdagne, then damaged by an earthquake in 1428 and abandoned in 1783, the abbey was diligently (perhaps too diligently) restored by the Bishop of Perpignan early in the 20th century. The oldest parts are the cloisters and the two churches, of which the lower church, dedicated to Notre-Dame-sous-Terre, is the most ancient. Rising above is a stocky, fortified bell tower. Masses are sung daily—Easter Mass is especially joyous and moving—but the Abbey can only be visited by daily guided tour; reservations are not needed.

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Religious Building/Site/Shrine Fodor's Choice

Quick Facts

Casteil
Vernet-les-Bains, Occitania  66820, France

-04–68–05–50–03

www.stmartinducanigou.org

Sight Details:
Rate Includes: €6, Closed Jan., and Mon. Oct.–May

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