Welcome to France ~ The Romanesque Sistine Chapel
Of all the Romanesque architectural marvels that have ever been built, perhaps none brings to fore the extra-ordinary minds responsible to this form of architecture than the Abbey Church of Saint-Savin sur Gartempe.
In the year 1983 UNESCO declared the Abbey Church of Saint-Savin sur Gartempe a World Heritage Site in recognition of its place in the Romanesque architecture history. It has been christened the ‘Romanesque Sistine Chapel’ for being home to 11th and 12th century murals that feature Romanesque art. They are still in a remarkable state of preservation even after 1000 years.
The foundation of this Romanesque church was laid in the mid-11th century. It is a cruciform church that has a square tower over its crossing. Its transept was the first to be built, followed by the choir, then the ambutory with 5 radial chapels in the polygon apse. On the next building, you will see that the 3 bays of the nave were added later. Of course the church would not be complete without the bell tower, a porch and 6 bays of the nave. On top of the bell tower is a spire that measures more than 80 meters high. The spire was added in the 14th century and restored in the 19th century.
Of all the features of this church, perhaps the most intriguing is the barrel vaulted nave that is scaled on a column with foliate capitals. Also notable is the crypt of legendary martyr brothers – St Savin and St Cyprian – frescoed below the church with the lives of the two saints.
Knowing the roots of Christianity in France is one of the most worthy endeavors that you can embark on during your French tour. There are a number of places you can learn this history in France, and the Abbey Church of Saint-Savin sur Gartempe is one such destination. While in the church, why don’t you say a little prayer for your family and country – divinity is never too far in old churches.
The journey to Saint-Savin-sur- Gartempe in Poitou France should be an interesting one. The French countryside’s beauty will give you a lot of awe-inspiring sights to capture on your camera before you top it off with exploring a Romanesque church.