Towering hundreds of feet above a rocky islet, Mont Saint-Michael Castle is a medieval village located about one kilometer off the French coast in Normandy.
With over three million tourists every year and less than 50 residents, Mont Saint-Michael is one of the most visited places on earth.
This magnificent complex inspired the castle from Disney’s Tangle and truly looks like it was plucked straight from a fairy tale.
The construction plans for Mont Saint-Michael were conceived in the year 708 with a dream. Legend has it that Angel Gabriel appeared to Bishop Aubert of Avranches on three different occasions, commissioning him to build a church on the rocky island.
Nicknamed “Bastille of the sea,” the castle served as a prison after the Abbey shut down in 1791. It accommodated up to 300 priests regarded at the time opponents of the current reign.
Being a weary journey that showed commitment to God, Mont Saint-Michael was a crucial pilgrimage destination during the Middle Ages, only behind Spain’s Santiago de Compostela.
Architecture & History
A rocky tidal island, Mont Saint-Michael sticks out about one kilometer into the ocean. In the Old Age, the island was solidly connected to the mainland. Still, over time, erosion reshaped the shoreline, wearing away at the softer coastline.
The granite outcrop of Mont withstood the historical erosion, towering over 90 meters above sea level.
The building of the iconic Abbey of Saint Michael, sitting at the top of the medieval island, began in the 11th century when Richard II of Normandy instructed Italian architect William de Volpiano to begin the construction.
The build and design of Mont, and the nearby walled town, continued for many centuries later. More additions to the structure happened in the 17th and 18th century, and later on in the 19th and 20th century.
Today, Mont is one of the World Heritage monuments by UNESCO, and the most visited French destination, second only to the Eiffel Tower.