Northwest of Mâcon is the little town of Cluny. Dating to an abbey established in the year 910 (called Cluniacum), the town became the epicenter of a Benedictine reform movement that sought to revive monastic traditions. From this tiny hamlet grew over 2,000 Cluniac abbeys across western Europe, and along with them, Cluny’s distinctive architecture. Three subsequent churches were erected on the site over the next century, but the third one was closed during the French Revolution so its stone could be sold for building projects, leaving behind few remnants.
The two main tourist attractions in Cluny are the abbey’s remaining fortifications, mentioned above, as well as Blanot Cave. The former consists of three towers and the Porte des Jardins (Garden Gate). As for the abbey church itself, the south transept (the “cross-piece” of Gothic cathedrals) and the lower clock tower are all that remain of the abbey church. The Musée Lapidaire, housed in the old monastic granary, contains abbey artifacts such as third church’s figural capitals. Blanot Cave is a labyrinth of connected limestone galleries and huge rooms, 80 m (262 ft) below ground.
The town of Cluny is a short distance from the abbey, and here you will find Notre-Dame, a Romanesque church built in 1100 and remodeled in the Gothic style. Cluny is also home to the Haras National, which trains thoroughbred horses. When the weather is good, you can watch their exercises.
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