cluny abbey
abbaye de cluny
department: saÔne-et-loire (71)
region: Bourgogne-Franche-Comté

Christianity's largest church throughout the middle ages

Cluny Abbey was one of the chief Benedictine, Christian monasteries of its time and it helped to bring stability to the European society. William I, Duke of Aquitaine founded the abbey by donating the land from his own hunting preserve. 

Founded in 910, the influence of Cluny Abbey radiated across Europe during the Middle Ages, with its large abbey church of exceptional proportions: the “Maior Ecclesia”. Originally, it began on a more modest scale, as the motherhouse of the Congregation of Cluny.

All images © Centre des monuments nationaux 

The highest vaults of the Romanesque world still bear witness today to this gigantism. The remains of the vast restored abbey church and the sites of the 18th-century buildings were renovated for the occasion of the 1100th anniversary of the abbey’s foundation. 

The Cluny Abbey was considered to be the most prestigious, grandest and splendid monastery in Europe. It was the largest church in the world until the building of St Peter's Basilica in the 17th century. Most of it was destroyed during the French Revolution in 1790, and today most of it is in ruins. Napoleon used material from the ruined abbey in 1806 to build a horse-breeding centre.

Abbaye de Cluny, Palais Gélase
Place du 11 août 1944, 71250 Cluny
Unaccompanied / guided tours
Tel: 03 85 59 15 93

January to March and October to December 9.30am–5pm
April to September 9.30am–6pm (July–August 7pm)

1st January, 1st May, 1st and 11th November and 25th December


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Cluny Tourist Office
Tel: 03 85 59 05 34