Mont Saint-Michel is one of the most famous tourist attractions in France The architecture of Mont Saint-Michel and its bay makes it the third most visited tourist site in France (after the Eiffel Tower and the Château of Versaille ). Mont Saint-Michel is a small rocky tidal island which holds a monastery off the coast of Normandy, the bay invaded by the largest tides in Europe and Mont-Saint-Michel stands at the centre on the northeast of France. The mount is best known for the medieval Gothic-style Benedictine Abbey dedicated to the archangel St Michael and steeple church that occupies most of the 1km-diameter clump of rocks jutting out of the waters of the English Channel. The mount is a block of granite that has resisted erosion when the coastline was formed over millions of years.
The island has been a strategic point holding fortifications since ancient times, and since the 8th century AD it became the seat of the Saint-Michel monastery, from which it draws the name.
For almost one thousand years the Abbey of St Michel was a great spiritual center and a famous place of pilgrimage for the medieval occident. The abbey was closed and converted into a prison, initially to hold clerical opponents of the republican régime under the Revolution and the Empire. The prison was finally closed in 1863, and the mount was declared a historic monument in 1874.
Mont-St-Michel and its Bay were one of the first monuments to be classed as a UNESCO world heritage site, during the 3rd session of the World Heritage Committee meeting in Cairo and Luxor, Egypt, on 22nd to the 26th of October, 1979.
Mont-St-Michel date back to 708, when The first Christian oratory was founded on the island . Aubert, Bishop of Avranches had a sanctuary built on Mont-Tombe in honour of the Archangel. and naturally it was dedicated to Saint Michael, the patron saint of sailors.The Mount soon beacame a major focus of pilgrimage. In the 10th century, the Benedictines settled in the Abbey.
During medieval times, Saint Michel was a proper island out in the bay a natural land bridge links Mont Saint-Michel to the mainland. At high tide it was surrounded by water for much of the time ,a land bridge is submerged cutting the link. This gives Mont Saint-Michel a mysterious appeal, being an island half the time, and surrounded by sand at low tide .as a result of bay silting and human intervention the land bridge was transformed into a causeway. , a project was announced to build a hydraulic dam that will remove the accumulated silt and allow Mont Saint-Michel to become an island again. The construction of the dam began in 2009 and is now complete.
The project also included the destruction of the causeway that had been built on top of the small land bridge and enlarged to join the island to the continent, and was used also as a parking lot for visitors.
The abbey is a technical and artistic tour de force, having had to adapt to the problems posed by this unique natural site, and was inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage List in 1979 for its rich cultural, historical, and architectural significance. It is a member of the Organization of World Heritage Cities.
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