Discover ancient Cluniac Abbey in flowery Romainmôtier
The first abbey of this order was built in the early 10th century in Cluny, French region of Burgundy. During the Middle Ages, Cluny became a major centre of European civilisation, resulting in the emergence and development of over 1800 sites throughout western Europe. Up to the 18th century, Cluniac sites influenced Europe on a spiritual, economic, social and political level and in arts and architecture. Nowadays, the cultural route of Cluniac sites allows you to discover the amazing monuments and learn more about life in the Middle Ages.
The most important Cluniac site in Switzerland is in Romainmôtier. Romainmôtier, labelled one of “the most beautiful villages in Switzerland”, is a must-see for those in love with historic towns nested in the middle of green mountains.
Situated in the Jura mountainside, the small medieval village is best explored on foot. Climb up the top of the Belvédère de Forel – the viewpoint to enjoy the striking landscape of the town’s picturesque streets and the ochre- and yellow-coloured roofs.
A jewel of the Yverdon-les-Bains region, Romainmôtier’s Cluniac abbey Abbaye St-Pierre-St-Paul de Cluny is Switzerland’s oldest Romanesque-style church.
The very first Romainmôtier monastery was founded around the year 450 by Saint Romain, while the second monastery was erected at the beginning of the 7th century by the will of Lord Félix Chramnelène, vassal of Clovis II. The church was rebuilt by Cluny monks in the 10th century.
The abbey church is open all year round, and entry is free. Today we can admire a splendent and bright priory church. This building, a rare example of an entirely Cluniac construction, allows an exceptional reading of history thanks to its 11th century nave, murals from the 13th and 14th centuries, the 12th-century St-Michel chapel, the rectangular Gothic choir, built after a fire to replace the Romanesque choir. This medieval jewel sits majestically in the Nozon valley with its Gothic cloister soberly redrawn on the ground, surrounded by the prior’s house (13th century) as well as by other old buildings closing the enclosure.
Come and visit la Grange de la Dîme – a small museum that is part of the Romainmôtier abbey, which exhibits objects from the various stages of the Romainmôtier abbey. Several times in summer, in July and August, Jehan Alain’s organ is presented to the public. The organ is on the third floor of the Grange de la Dime. These presentations are followed by a little musical moment.
A place to meditate and regenerate, Romainmôtier offers a wide range of cultural, artistic and gastronomic activities.
Nature lovers can enjoy a rich varied network of footpaths through the region, such as the Via Francigena. Spanning from English Canterbury to Rome, this ancient medieval route of pilgrims and merchants offers an immersive experience in culture and nature. Follow the yellow pilgrim signs to leave Romainmôtier on a 12-kilometre hike to the village of Cossonay.
Back in Romainmôtier your stroll will inevitably end on Place du Bourg, in the lively and busy medieval town centre for a taste of the famous local beer, brewed by hand, following ancient techniques. This beer pairs fantastically with the homemade pies from “Maison du Prieur”, just opposite the Clock Tower.
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