Friday, March 30, 2012

Charroux, France - June 11, 2011

Charroux is a fortified village of about 320 people in the Allier department of the Auvergne region in west central France. At 1360 feet altitude the village flourished in the renaissance period, led by its wine making and leather tanning industries. The Saint Jean Baptiste Church in the middle of the village has a curiously truncated bell tower although there is no explanation offered for the uniquely stubby steeple.
In 785 CE a Benedictine abbey was founded in Charroux by Roger, Count of Limoges. The abbey church was rebuilt in the 11th century to become one of the largest Romanesque churches in Christendom at 413 feet long. Following the death of Richard the Lionheart, King of England and Duke of Aquitaine in April 1199, the king's brain was buried at Charroux Abbey. In 1762 the abbey was abandoned and following the French Revolution the buildings were sold and were partly demolished to form a racecourse. The only remaining structure of the church is the 11th-century lantern tower, known as the Charlemagne Tower. Pictures here.

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