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Saint Martin du Canigou 04.jpg


Basic information
Location near Casteil, Prades, Pyrénées-Orientales, Languedoc-Roussillon region,
France France
Geographic coordinates 42°31′41″N 2°24′03″E / 42.528144°N 2.400892°E / 42.528144; 2.400892Coordinates: 42°31′41″N 2°24′03″E / 42.528144°N 2.400892°E / 42.528144; 2.400892
Affiliation Originally Benedictine now Community of the Beatitudes
Region Languedoc-Roussillon
State Pyrénées-Orientales
District Prades
Municipality Casteil
Ecclesiastical status Monastery
Status Active
Architectural description
Architectural type Abbey church
Architectural style Romanesque
Groundbreaking 1005[1]
Year completed 1009[2]
Designated as NHL: Monument historique (1889)
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Shown within France

Martin-du-Canigou (also "Saint-Martin-du-Canigou" or just "Canigou", in Catalan Sant Martí del Canigó) is a monastery built in 1009 in the Pyrenees on Canigou mountain in present day southern France near the Spanish border.


The monastery is located on the territory of the commune of Casteil, in the Pyrénées-Orientales département (42°31′41.32″N 2°24′03.21″E / 42.5281444°N 2.4008917°E / 42.5281444; 2.4008917).


The original monastery was built from 1005 to 1009 by Guifred, Count of Cerdanya (Fr. Cerdagne), in atonement for the murder of his son and was populated by Benedictine monks.

In 1049, Guifred, Count of Cerdanya, died at the monastery he had built. In 1051 a messenger set forth to visit religious houses throughout Europe to solicit prayers for his dead master. He brought a parchment upon which at each stop were added words of prayer and respect. This parchment has survived and scholars (including Léopold Delisle with his Rouleaux des Morts du IX au XV Siecle of 1866) have used it to discover differences in culture between northern and southern Europe in a single given year. Some of the discoveries from this important document include that southern culture was more staid and bound by custom while the northern culture more free form and experimental in their writing styles, use of words and grammar.

The monastery was damaged in the Catalan earthquake of 1428.

The monastery was secularized in 1782 by Louis XVI.

The monastery was abandoned by the monks in 1783-1785 and fell into disrepair.

During the Terror, the abbey was closed, and its contents scattered. The buildings were then transformed into a stone quarry for nearby residents, the capitals of the cloister were looted, as well as sculptures and furniture.

In 1902, the bishop of Elne and Perpignan, because of his Catalan background, began to restore the ruins radically, work that was completed in 1932. Today it is occupied by the Catholic Community of the Beatitudes.


The abbey consists of two churches; the lower church, dedicated to St. Mary, and the upper, dedicated to St. Martin.

  • The lower church is predominantly black, and vault height rarely exceeds 3 meters. The eastern part (apses and adjacent bay) probably dates back to the consecration of 1009, while the rest of the building dates from the years 1010-1020, in conjunction with work after acquiring the relics of St. Ganders and new consecration of the church.
  • The upper church was built between the years 1010-1020 (at the same time as the expansion of the lower church). Its construction required the strengthening of the columns of the lower church, which were enclosed in square piles. Similar to the lower church, the Saint-Martin church is composed of three naves separated by monolithic columns and barrel vaulted semicircular (except between the third and fourth bay, where the pair of support is cruciform in shape and arch supports).
  • The gatehouse is no longer than 19 meters after being damaged in the 1428 earthquake. It was never fully restored.

The rest of the convent buildings date from the early twentieth century.

The cloister

Since the restorations of 1900-1920 it is difficult to imagine the original appearance of the cloister. The cloister once had two levels, the first built in the early eleventh century and the second to the late twelfth century. The lower level, which showed vaulted galleries and semicircular arches was bare of any decoration. Nowadays, there remain only three galleries that have been heavily restored, lacking their original character. The upper level, had marble capitals, which were scattered after the closure of the monastery during the French Revolution. The restoration recovered some, which were incorporated in the new southern gallery.


External links

Template:Visitor attractions in Pyrénées-Orientalesca:Sant Martí del Canigó cs:Klášter Saint-Martin du Canigouja:サン=マルタン・デュ・カニグー修道院 sv:Saint-Martin du Canigou

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