Founded in 909 by William I, Duke of Aquitaine and Count of Auvergne, Cluny Abbey was in its heyday one of the wealthiest and most influential Benedictine monasteries in Europe. Independent from the secular power, Cluny was under the direct authority of the Pope and was the head of 1,100 monasteries and priories all over Europe.
The abbey was a major spiritual and intellectual centre in the Middle Ages. As the seat of the reformation of the Rule of St. Benedict, Cluny became acknowledged as the leader of Western monasticism.
The construction of the monastery started in 910. Culny I was completed in 927. A larger complex as built from 963 and consecrated in 981. The last expansion was launched in 1080 by Abbot Hugh of Cluny, and ended in 1130. The new 187-metre long abbey was then the largest religious edifice in the West until the reconstruction of St Peter's of Rome from 1505. Cluny was entirely built in the Romanesque style.
Many of the abbey's buildings were destroyed in 1791 during the French Revolution. The archives were burnt in 1793 and the church looted. For the next 20 years, until 1813, the abbey was used as a stone quarry to build houses in the town. What can be seen today only represents 10% of the the medieval abbey, but is nevertheless impressive.
Since 1901, the abbey has housed a centre of Arts et Métiers ParisTech, a major engineering school in the fields of mechanics and industrialization.
Opening Hours & Admission
The abbey is open daily all year round. From 2nd May to 31st August it is open from 9:30 am to 6:30 pm. The rest of the year it is open from 9:30 am to 12:00 noon, then from 1:30 pm to 5:00 pm. Annual closing days are 1st January, 1st May, 1st and 11th November and 25th December.
Admission is 8.5 € for adults and 5.5 € for concessions. Admission is free for children under 18 years old, 18-25 year-old residents of an EEC country (EU + Norway and Iceland) and unemployed visitors.
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