Romanesque art

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  Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa  
Pyrénées-Orientales

A brief history...
The history of Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa begins with a flood… In 878 AD, the religious community from Eixalada monastery was forced to take refuge at Cuxa, under the protection of the counts of Cerdagne, following a dramatic rise in the waters of the Têt. Sixty or so monks set up a communication network which offered the abbey unique influence throughout Europe. During the Revolution, most of the building was destroyed and the abbey abandoned until 1950. It owes its new life to cellist Pablo Casals, a refugee in France after fleeing from Franco's dictatorship. After years of silence, he gave his first public concerts in the church, an open-air site due to its lack of a roof!.
The restored abbey is now home to a Benedictine community.
 

 

 
Romanesque treasures
The 40-metre high square tower of Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa dominates the surrounding orchards. There used to be a twin tower, thus framing the nave. One of the most interesting items inside is the crypt of the Virgin of the Crèche. This circular chapel of rough stone has no decorations whatsoever. Yet its vault, supported by an enormous central pillar, grants it a very moving beauty and elegance. In the XIth century, it stood under a chapel of the Trinity with an architectural innovation: a rotunda linked to the outside by two staircases, allowing pilgrims to venerate the relic of the swaddling cloths.
 
Another interesting feature is the cloister with its superb capitals decorated with flowers and animals in pink marble. Of the capitals, only 35 are authentic. The rest are housed in the "Cloisters" museum in New York, bought in the early part of the 20th century by American antique collector Barnard, despite protestations. The cloister was therefore rebuilt as per the original in 1952.
 
 

   
Abbaye de Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa
66500 Codalet
Phone: 04 68 96 15 35

 
 


Visiting times
From 1st May to 30th Sept. : 9.30-11.50am and 2-6pm From 1st Oct. to 30th April: 9.30-11.50am and 2-5pm

 

 

Access:
Leave Perpignan on the N116 then take the D27 after Prades.

 

 

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