Journey to the Castle of Saint-Michel: dancing angels at the tip of the spire
Of all the legends about Saint-Michel, the most extravagant about how Archangel Michael and the devil argued who would build the most beautiful castle on Mount Saint-Michel. As usual, the archangel defeated: his structure turned out to be truly divine, and the angels took the castle to heaven. The devil's masterpiece was also beautiful, but took the second place of honor. Therefore, his castle remained on the ground, crowned the island of Saint-Michel and now admires our gaze.
"The fairy castle erected in the middle of the sea", "the miracle of the West", "the most beautiful abbey of France" - these are not modern opinions, but the responses of medieval travelers. However, even today, after Versailles and the Eiffel Tower, Saint-Michel is the most visited place in France.
The history of the castle and the abbey, full of adventures with the participation of famous historical figures, began in 966, when the Duke of Normandy passed the mountain of Saint-Michel to the Benedictine monks. By the eleventh century, the abbey had become not only a religious center, but also a fortress with its own garrison. The soldiers were the monks themselves, who obeyed only the abbot and the king of France.
During the Hundred Years War, the English tried to capture Saint-Michel thrice, but without success. In these years, the abbey began to enjoy great influence: the island of Saint-Michel remained the only piece of French land in the west and north of France. It is known that the battle cry of Joan of Arc was "Saint-Michel-Montjoie!".
Today, the monastery on Mount Saint-Michel became one of the first objects included in the UNESCO World Heritage List - in 1979, the year of the formation of the list itself. The town of Mont-Saint-Michel is a close-standing house that is sculpted around a rock. Transport in the city is absent, and to get to the top of the mountain, to the castle, you will need strength and comfortable shoes. Now the island is permanently inhabited by only 72 people.
The island of Saint-Michel lags 1.5 km from the mainland and is located on land, then in the ocean - due to large tides, exposing the bottom for 24 km. It is observed not only the highest, but also the fastest tide in France.
During the most powerful outflows, during the autumn and spring equinoxes, the sea retreats from the island for several kilometers, but after 5-6 hours the water at the speed of a galloping horse rushes to a lonely rock, turning it into an "island in the midst of a raging ocean."
Another version of the arrangement of Mount Saint-Michel says that in 708 the archangel of Avranches was Archangel Michael and called him to build a church on the mountain. Archbishop decided that he imagined with tired eyes, and did not fulfill the order. Michael had to appear three times and even leave a sign on his forehead from his "fiery glazed finger" before the slow-moving priest began construction.
The church of Saint-Michel is built on the top of a cliff, at an altitude of 80 meters above sea level. The church's transect is oriented so that every year, May 8, the day of St. Michael, the sun rises exactly behind the altar and moves across the sky along the main axis of the temple. In the dome of the temple there is a hole through which exactly at noon the rays of the sun fall on the altar.
As souvenirs from Saint-Michel, local apple cider and biscuits, gifts in sea and milk subjects, baubles with the image of the castle are brought. One of the interesting photos of the fortress is obtained on the way back, if you just move away from the mountain in the direction of the city of Pontorson. On the meadow, near the road, black-eared lambs often graze. Their cute band on the backdrop of a slightly remote St. Michel will add to the trip a sense of wholeness.