THE MONOLITHIC CHURCH
The monolithic church is an underground church dugged in the early 12th century of gigantic proportions (38 metres long and 12 metres high). At the heart of the city, the monolithic church reminds the religious activity of the city in the Middle Ages and intrigues by its unusual design. If it shows itself in the eyes of the visitor by the position of a 68-meter-high bell tower, then it hides itself behind the elegance of three openings on the front and a Gothic portal often closed. Is that the church is as well surprising as fragile!
From the ancient Greek « mono » meant « single » and « lithos », « stone », its name refers to a building dug into the limestone plateau and whose current structure still forms a single block. The goal of its realization is probably the development of the city around a pilgrim activity on the tomb of the patron Saint St. Emilion. In memory of the Breton hermit who had settled in a nearby cave during the 8th century, and in order to edify the faithful, the ambition to achieve a sufficiently large reliquary church to host hundreds of pilgrims, was born.
Carved in the 12th century, painted in the 14th, devastated in the 16th, battered in the 18th during the Revolution and restored in the 20th ! Today, it is still consecrated and hosts regular religious ceremonies, sometimes concerts, but also induction ceremonies of the Brotherhood of wines of Saint-Emilion - The Jurade. Mainly it is an unavoidable place to visit for an unforgettable, daily guided tour.
> The only way to discover the church, is to follow a guided tour offered by the Tourist Office:
- Underground Saint-Emilion: 45 minutes to explore 4 monuments (Hermitage, Trinity Chapel, Catacombs, Monolith church). Every day, all year (except December 25th). Information and tickets here.
- Saint-Emilion UNESCO City Tour: 1 ½ hour of city tour including the Monolithic Church. From April to October and during school holidays. Information and tickets here.
> Photographing is not allowed when visiting the underground monuments. Thank you for your understanding.
THE BELL TOWER OF THE MONOLITHIC CHURCH
The bell tower of the monolithic church, built between the 12th and the 15th century and reinforced at its base a century later, is the peak of Saint-Emilion. His appearance, both solid and slender, reflects the different construction periods where we might pass from Romanesque to Gothic, from a simple bell to a symbol of religious power !
Climb its 196 steps is certainly a challenge, but especially the chance to admire an amazing view of the city and its Jurisdiction! It is open daily throughout the year. (Except special event, information at the Tourist Office).
> The bell tower is accessible every day all year round except on 25th December or special event (information at the Tourist Office).