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Castel Sant’Angelo history

castel sant angeloThe beautiful Castel Sant’Angelo, also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian, has a fascinating history. The latter name derives from its founder; the roman emperor Hadrian.
The construction of this great building started in year 135 AD and finished just 4 years later.

This also included the magnificent bridge in front of the castle – excluding the angel statues which were added later. Hadrian never got to see his mausoleum completely finished, as he died one year before its completion.

The emperor’s ashes were placed in the mausoleum, together with those of his wife and his first adopted son who died at young age.

A mausoleum for emperors

castel sant angeloThe mausoleum became a resting place for not only Hadrian, but also several of his successors. The last one to be interred in the building was Emperor Caracalla in year 217 AD. While the original structural design of the mausoleum is uncertain, historians believe it was composed of a square base with a large cylindrical body, crowned by a statue of Hadrian riding a chariot.

Expansions

castel sant angelo nightHowever, as one can see today, the Castel Sant’Angelo neither consists of only a cylindrical body, nor does it have a chariot statue at the top. This is due to the fact that the building has been serving several purposes throughout its history. This has in turn which has lead to several expansions of the building.

Exactly how the mausoleum used to look like during its peak is hard to say, as the original design is still uncertain. However, a report from the 6th century which describes the building has made historians believe that only the Colosseum surpassed it in splendor.

Barbaric invasion

passetto di borgoThe first change took place when the mausoleum was turned into a fortress during the decline of the Roman Empire. The fortress could however not stop the barbaric invasions and the sacking of Rome in the early 5th century.

Unfortunately, the sacking meant that the majority of the mausoleum decorations were stolen and much of the tomb content became scattered. The mausoleum took further damage when Rome was sacked once again in the 6th century.

Strategically located

Up until the Middle Ages, Castel Sant’Angelo was owned by various Roman families until the Papal state acquired the fortress in 1377. The Vatican saw great potential in the old fortress, as it was strategically located at the northern entrance to Rome – close to both the Vatican City and the Tiber River.

Passetto di Borgo

castel sant angelo nightIt didn’t take long for Pope Nicolas the 3rd to convert it into a proper castle. The pope also connected the castle to St Peter’s Basilica with an elevated passage. The passage is known as Passetto di Borgo and still exists today. The passage is located on the west side of the castle.

Visitors will see it as a wall-like structure leading all the way to Vatican City. The fortified passage is located on top of this wall and allowed for a quick and secure passage between the two buildings, in case of an emergency.

A bloody place

castel sant angelo statueThe Papal state did not only use this structure as a castle, but also as a prison where many noted Italians have been imprisoned.  Several executions took place in the small inner square and sometimes the mutilated bodies were displayed on the bridge in front of the castle in deterring purposes.

Gunpowder adaptations

Throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, Castel Sant’Angelo kept serving as a military fortification. In order to adapt to the use of new fire weapons, several expansions took place.

The bastions located in each corner dates back to this period and was meant to house artillery for defensive purposes. The walls were also surrounded with a moat filled with water from the river Tiber.

Why visit Castel Sant’Angelo ?

castel sant angelo statueCastel Sant’Angelo is a beautiful site, full of history. The castle is crowned by a large statue at the top. The statue was also added during the Renaissance and depicts an angel. This angel honors an old legend which has given the castle its current name.

The legend

The legend holds that the Archangel Michael appeared at the top of the mausoleum in year 590. After he appeared, he sheathed his sword as a sign that the plague which had tormented Rome finally had come to an end.

The original statue was made in marble, but was later replaced with the bronze replica that stands today. The original statue can however still be found at the open court inside the castle.

The museum

castel sant angelo statueThe castle really only lost its military function in 1925, when it was renovated and began to serve as a national museum, which it still does today. While the museum is certainly worth a visit, you should definitely explore Castel Sant’Angelo itself.

Lots to discover

The many different roles the castle has played are all here for its visitors to discover; all the way from the funeral passage of Hadrian to the beautifully-frescoed interiors from the Papal expansions as well as the defensive battlements of the Renaissance.

Anyone interested in history and architecture, will certainly enjoy a visit to Castel Sant’Angelo. It is also possible to access the top of the castle. It will give provide great view over Rome in general and the St Peter’s Basilica in particular.

Castel Sant’Angelo location

Castel Sant’Angelo is located on the banks of the Tiber in the heart of RomeItaly. The castle is situated close to the Vatican City. For the exact location of Castel Sant’Angelo, check out the location map to the right.

Castel Sant’Angelo Video

Sleeping Beauty Castle history

The Sleeping Beauty Castle or Dornröschenschloss as its known in German, has a long history by itself. However, one cannot talk about the Sleeping Beauty Castle without talking about the Brothers Grimm. The two famous German fairy tales writers Wilhem and Jakob Grimm are the ones who created the classical stories about Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel and many more. They also wrote the story about the Sleeping Beauty.

An inspiring site

Since many of the Grimm brothers’ fairy tales was inspired by their own lives and their surroundings, people started to wonder where the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty came from. Already in the 19th century after the publication of the Brothers Grimm’s Fairy Tales, people imagined this very castle to be the place where the Sleeping Beauty tale must have come from. Partly because the Grimm Brothers spent time in the surrounding areas and also due to the ivy-covered castle’s sleeping look with its magnificent past and its hedges of thorns.

The castle was said to be sleeping as it was partly a ruin at the time the Grimm bothers lived. In the early 19th century, the castle was abandoned as a residence and it rapidly fell into disrepair, converting the castle to a wild romantic old ruin.

Founding of the castle

But lets wind back time a bit more and talk about the castle’s history some more.  Once upon a time, the nearby village of Gottsbüren was seen as a holy site for Christians during the early 14th century. This drew many pilgrimages to the place which rapidly increased the city’s fame. In order to protect the village and the pilgrimages, the archbishop of Mainz founded the castle known as “Zapfenburg” in year 1334.

The castle also goes by the name Sababurg Castle. “Sababurg” comes from the legendary goddess of Saba – a name which was adopted at the end of the 16th century. The castle soon became the object of territorial disputes between the regions Mainz, Paderborn, Braunschweig and Hessen. The castle eventually split between Mains and Hessen, and later passed on to the local land lords in 1429. However, the castle quickly lost its political and military importance, and thus it fell more and more into ruins.

A new role

In the late 15th- and early 16th century, the castle was used as a base for the local foresters and as a place to keep wild horses. Later, Philipp I had the castle reconstructed in 1522 into a hunting lodge which he used frequently for hunts and festivals. An area outside of the castle, around one square kilometer, was laid out in 1571 and surrounded by a long wall. Inside were a vast range of northern “wild” animals. This served as a hunting ground for rich land owners and their friends.

Later stages

During the Thirty Years War, the castle was badly damaged, but later rebuilt between 1649 and 1651.The so called “Welsch” domes that crowns the top of the two towers dates back to this period.

In the 18th century, the castle interior was embellished considerably and it was later refurnished in splendid fashion. However, as mentioned earlier, the castle was later abandoned as a residence. Also, during parts of the 19th century, some areas of the castle was demolished and the material used for other building projects. This gave the castle the ruinous and wild which inspired the Grimm Brothers to write their story of Sleeping Beauty.

Around 100 years later, during the early 20th century, the long sleep was over and the castle was kissed awake and restored for visitors.

Why visit the Sleeping Beauty Castle ?

The first word that comes to mind for a lot of people when looking at the Sleeping Beauty Castle is simply “enchanting”. No wonder..

Wildlife.. literally!

Today, the surrounding wildlife area which once started as a hunting ground for the local landlords, has now grown into a full fledged zoo with focus on northern wild animals. Visitors can now observe a multitude of different animals at Sababurg’s Zoological Garden.

The over 650 year old castle itself is not only a site for visitors who want to experience the enchanting beauty of the real fairytale castle, but it also houses a romantic hotel, a theater  and a restaurant.

Castle garden

The Sleeping Beauty Castle also has a stunning medieval castle garden. The garden grows herbs, vegetables, flowers and of course; roses. This garden is a must see – especially during the rose season.

Fairy tale route

The Sleeping Beauty Castle is one of the highlights of the scenic Fairy Tale Route in Germany, a route which takes you along the origins of many of the Brothers Grimms fairytales. You can easily understand why the brothers were captivated by the enchanting beauty the Sleeping Beauty Castle holds.

Just like in the story of the Sleeping Beauty, or “The beauty in the Forest” as the story is sometimes called, the wild returns to take over the castle which is exactly what happened to the castle here in Sababurg.

Sleeping Beauty Castle location

The Sleeping Beauty Castle is located in northern Hessen, Germany. The castle is hidden deep within the Reinhardswald forest, next to the small town of Sababurg. For the exact location of the Sleeping Beauty Castle, check out the location map to the right.

Sleeping Beauty Castle Video

Heidelberg Castle history

Very little is known about the construction of Heidelberg Castle. All that certain is that the construction on Heidelberg Castle began in early 14th century. However, because each successive heir to the throne invariably chose to alter the design plans of the preceding monarch, the project was never really completed.

A battle worn site

Heidelberg – and its castle in particular – have had a long and troublesome history. This is why we only can see a part of the Heidelberg Castle’s former glory today. The construction was halted in the 17th century with the outbreak of the Thirty Years War and in the coming centuries, the castle would be subject to destruction rather than construction.

Destruction

Heidelberg Castle was under its first attack in 1622, when the Holy Roman Empire commander General Tilly captured it. Eleven years later, Swedes siege the castle and open fired on it, in which General Tilly handed the castle over and later retook it 1635. In 1688, French troops marched into Heidelberg and took the castle without a fight. When the French withdrew one year later, they had a tactic of destroying the enemy fortifications before leaving, in hope to prevent future attacks.

Thus, Heidelberg Castle was set on fire and the front of the largest tower, also known as “Fat Tower”, was blown up.
Immediately as the French left, the walls and towers were rebuilt. When the French attack again two years later, they failed to take the castle. The French then changed their tactics and destroyed parts of the town of Heidelberg instead, to cut of the supply line for the castle. This in turn forced a surrender of the castle in 1693.

This time the French finished off the work the started earlier and blew up the remaining walls and towers. To put things simple; the castle had some rough times. And it didn’t stop there.

Wrath from above

After the peace treaty was signed in 1697, peace was finally brought to the town and its castle. As Heidelberg Castle was so damaged, plans were to pull down the castle and reuse the parts for a new palace in the valley.

When difficulties with this plan became apparent, Heidelberg Castle was instead patched up. When the elector of Palatine at the time, Karl Theodor, wished to his court into the castle, disaster struck again. On Jun 23rd 1764, the day before Karl Theodor would move into Heidelberg Castle, lightning struck the court building. Not once, but twice, which once again set the castle on fire. Karl Theodor saw this as a sign from above and quickly changed his moving-in plans.

Left in shatters

In 1777, Karl Theodor became ruler of Bavaria in addition to the Palatinate and removed his court from Mannheim to Munich. Thus, Heidelberg Castle receded even further from his thoughts.

During this time, the castle became misused as a source of building materials and even as early as 1767, the south wall was quarried for stone to build Schwetzingen Castle – the summer residence of Karl Theodor. Heidelberg Castle was also looted on material by the townsfolk who used it for their houses. This was stopped in 1800 by the French Count Charles de Graimbergwho made any effort he could to preserve the Heidelberg Castle.

Restoration attempts

In the late 19th century, there was a debate whether or not to completely restore the whole Heidelberg Castle. In the end, this was considered not possible. It was however decided that it would be possible to preserve the castle in its current condition. Only the Friedrich Building, whose interiors were fire damaged but not ruined, would be restored.

Why visit Heidelberg Castle ?

Heidelberg Castle is without a doubt the number one landmark of Heidelberg. Many say that there is something special about this particular castle – and in fact there is! Due to the castle’s troublesome history, parts of the castle lie in ruins.

However, other parts stand as shining as ever due to the 19th century renovations. This mixture of buildings and ruins truly makes this castle one of a kind and one of the most charming castles around.

The castle garden

One must-go place when visiting Heidelberg Castle is its garden. Visitors can spend hours in the garden and still find hidden beauties. In the garden lies several big grottos on the upper terrace, little benches with their history and several beautiful statues and fountains.

The most prominent statue is Father Rhine, symbolizing the most important river of Germany. The statue rests on a stone bed, surround by water.  He is not that hard to recognize; there is not too many white statues of a half naked man with a long beard around.

Spectacular view

Standing on the terrace will provide a great view of Heidelberg.  From here, visitors can see all the roofs of old Heidelberg city, the maze of its little cobbled streets, the churches and the Neckar River with the Old Bridge.

Wine cellar

Another charming place is the wine cellar. When entering the cellar, visitors get greeted by the cellar master and court jester Perkeo. He works 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He is also made of bronze and rather small, but nonetheless welcoming.

The cellar also house one of the biggest wine kegs in the world –The Great Vat. It has a capacity of 220,000 liters, or 58,000 gallons, and was long the largest wine barrel in the world. The Great Vat was installed in 1751 with a direct connection by pump to the main banqueting hall. There were never any reports of wine shortage on the Heidelberg Castle banquet.

Elisabeth’s Gate

One last mention goes to the triumphal arch known as Elisabeth’s Gate, located near the entrance. Tradition says the gate was built in a single night by Prince Elector Friedrich V in 1615 as a birthday present for his English princess, Elisabeth Stuart.

The charming little gate was severely weather warn and was partly restored in 1949. The unique pillars are noteworthy with their leaf work and artistic flowered capitols. I recommend you pay it a visit.

Today, the Heidelberg Castle is among the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps and the castle is visited by many tourists each year – not only because of the beautiful structures and statues, but also a due to the beauty of destruction and its rich history.

Heidelberg Castle location

Heidelberg Castle is located in Heidelberg, Germany. The castle is situated on the mountain slope in the eastern parts of the city. For the exact location of Heidelberg Castle, check out the location map to the right.

Heidelberg Castle Video

Neuschwanstein Castle history

Neuschwanstein CastleThe construction of the breathtaking Neuschwanstein Castle began in the summer of 1868, when up to eight meters of stone were outcropped to make way for the foundation of the castle. In June the next year, the new access roads which would enable the transportation of material to site were completed.

On September 5th the very same year, the foundation stone was laid and the real construction had begun. Despite its medieval look, the last building techniques, material and innovations were used in the construction of Neuschwanstein Castle. The foundations were cemented and the walls were built of brick with light-colored limestone used merely as cladding.

First stages of construction

As one can imagine, building a castle on a rocky location such as this, is quite hard. Despite the modern building techniques, the construction process was difficult and complicated. Even though it was built rather quickly compared to other great castles, it was not built as rapidly as the founder of the castle – Ludwig II – had hoped.

Neuschwanstein CastleNeuschwanstein Castle consists of the gatehouse which one walks through when entering, the Knights House with a square tower to the right and a citadel in front of the courtyard.  The first building which was completed was the gateway building in 1872. This building was used as a provisional living quarter Ludwig II when he visited the site, until the main citadel had been built.

Final stages

The construction of the citadel started in 1872 and was finished twelve years later in 1884, though without all the final details completed. By that time, Ludwig moved in to the castle and lived there permanently. The whole castle as such stood ready 1892; which totals a construction time of 24 years.

Neuschwanstein Castle mistThe effect of this white, fairy-tale castle with its beautiful location is simply amazing. Unfortunately, the man who dedicated his life and a fortune on the project, Ludwig II, never got the see the castle completed, as he died in 1886.

The man behind it

So, who was this man, who had such a masterpiece of a castle constructed and what were his motives? The story behind Ludwig II is almost as intriguing and romanticized as the castle itself.

Ludwig was the oldest son of Crown Prince Maximilian II of Bavaria. He lived a typical life of a young royal, with a strict regimen of study and exercise and rather harsh relations to his father and mother. Ludwig spent much of his time at Castle Hohenschwangau, the former ruined castle of Schwanstein, which his father had rebuilt in a gothic style.

Hohenschwangau” means in a strict translation “The upper land of the Swans” and the castle was decorated with scenes from medieval legends and poetry, including the legend of the swan knight Lohengrin. The swan was also the heraldic animal of the Knights of Schwangau, whose successor the Maximilian II considered himself to be.

Ludwig’s dreamscape

LNeuschwanstein Castle keepudwig had already as a child vivid imagination and he identified himself with Lohengrin, both as a real swan knight and as the fictitious knight Lohengrin. The young Ludwig was also influenced by the romantic mountain scenery and the Hohenschwangau castle became one of his favorite places to stay. It was a place for him to escape the strict and limited reality.

Ludwig soon became an admirer of Richard Wagner, a German composer and theatre director. Wagner had a very classic and romantic way of doing operas. Ludwig was introduced to Wagner’s “Lohengrin” on 2 February 1861 in the Munich Court Opera House and he was captivated.

At the age of 18, Ludwig became Ludwig II as he took over the throne after his father who had died in a three-day illness. At that time, one of the very first orders he gave was to summon Richard Wagner to his court. There Ludwig II rescued the composer from a financial crisis which helped him to create new operas.

A devastating blow

Neuschwanstein Castle keepSoon after the death of his father, Ludwig II suffered a severe personal blow. As the region of Bavaria was allied with Austria, who in 1866 lost the war against the expanding Prussia, Bavaria was forced into an alliance with Prussia which removed the Ludwig’s right to dispose over his own army in case of war. This meant that Ludwig II no longer was the sovereign ruler, simply a vassal of the Prussian ruler.  One year later, he began planning for a kingdom and castle of his own, where he could be a real king once again.

A castle of his own

This castle would be named “New Hohenschwangau Castle” and would be a better recreation of the ideal medieval castle compared to his fathers.

Neuschwanstein Castle view

Perfection was the key with a mixture of original style and modern technical features. The main architecture of the castle was drawn, not by a professional architect, but by the theatrical set designer Christian Jank. This further shows how fascinated Ludwig II was by sagas and fantasies and what his motives for the castle were. Through out the castle, its design pays homage to the German legend of Lohengrin, the Swan Knight.

A new world

Neuschwanstein Castle winterAs the construction of castle progressed, Ludwig alienated himself from people and spent more and more time in the mountains and less time in Munich as he drifted into his fantasy world. Ludwig II increasingly identified himself with Parzival, a legendary medieval figure who became the Grail King through his purity and faith.

Ludwig was so intrigued that he asked Wagner to write an opera about it, which he did in 1877. Wagner and his circle privately even referred to Ludwig as “Parsifal”, and his problems were incorporated into the drama of the Grail. This opera was then played exclusively several times for Ludwig.

During this stage, Ludwig started to redesign many of the castle rooms. For example, the “Writing Room” was changed into a small grotto. The modest “Audience Room” became a huge Throne Room. The room was no longer intended for giving audiences, but was built as a monument to kingship and a copy of the legendary Grail hall. A massive Knights Keep was planned for the middle of the upper courtyard but was never built; only the foundation for the keep which is still visible.

Reality catches up

Neuschwanstein Castle roomHowever, Ludwig’s behavior was in the long run not compatible with his duties as a head of state. Reality was knocking on Ludwig’s door 1885 as foreign banks threatened to seize his property due to his overwhelming depts. The construction of the castle had cost him a fortune.

When Ludwig refused to react rationally, he was declared insane by the government, and interned in Berg Palace. The next day he was found drowned under mysterious circumstances in Lake Starnberg, together with the same psychiatrist who had certified him as insane.

Post Ludwig

Neuschwanstein Castle swanAfter Ludwig’s death, Neuschwanstein Castle and all its glory was opened up to the public. The castle was also renamed from “New Hohenschwangau Castle” to its current name Neuschwanstein Castle – meaning New Swan of Stone Castle.

Why visit Neuschwanstein Castle ?

Neuschwanstein Castle is without a doubt one of the most – if not the most beautiful castle in the world. The fairylike Neuschwanstein Castle with its mountains background is a breathtaking sight.

Even though photography is forbidden inside Neuschwanstein Castle, it is the most photographed building in Germany and it is visited by more than one million people each year. If the castle feels somewhat familiar, it is probably because it has appeared in several movies. Neuschwanstein Castle is also the inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty Castle in the Disneylands.

A fascinating site

Neuschwanstein CastleAs you now know, the Newschwanstein Castle has a fascinating story behind it, which is one of the reasons why Neuschwanstein Castle has become so popular. Ludwig once said; “I want to remain an eternal mystery to myself and others”. It is certainly what he has become and his mysterious element still fascinates people today.

Visitors to Newschwanstein Castle can walk in the stunning courtyard and discover all the rooms and halls Ludwig had prepared. Even though Ludwig II passed away, the story of his life and his masterpiece work in form of Neuschwanstein Castle, will live on a long, long time.

Neuschwanstein Castle location

Neuschwanstein Castle is located near Füssen in southwest Bavaria Germany. The castle is situated on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau. For the exact location of Neuschwanstein Castle, check out the location map to the right.

Neuschwanstein Castle Video

Mont Saint Michel history

Standing on a rock peak, the church of Mont Saint Michel has a commanding view over the nearby bay. In prehistoric times, the bay was a part of the coastland. Over millions of years, rising sea levels lead to erosions which tore down and shaped the coastal landscape.

Some blocks of granite resisted the wear and tear of the ocean better than its surroundings, which is why Mont-Saint-Michel, together with a few other rocks, is standing tall in an otherwise flat and ever-changing landscape.

Monte Tombe

The origin of the Mont Saint Michel dates back to sixth and seventh century, when Armorican Gauls used the island as a stronghold of Breton culture and power. During this time the island was known as “Monte Tombe”.

After the Romans left Britannia – today’s United Kingdom – in mid 5th century, many Britons crossed the channel due to fear of the increasing Anglo-Saxon influence in their former home country. This emigration is the reason why this French region is called Bretagne, in English “Brittany”- “little Britain”. The Monte Tombe served as a stronghold until it was later sacked by the Franks, which ended the era of Celtic cultural links between Britannia and the region Bretagne.

Saint Michael

Mont Saint Michel got its current name in 709, when the bishop of Avranches, St. Aubert, ordered a small church to be built on the site. The legend says that the Archangel Saint Michael, leader of the armies of heaven, appeared before the bishop and instructed him to build the church on this rocky isle.

Today, a golden statue of Saint Michael can be seen at the top of the church spire, protecting and overlooking the entire island.

Expansion

The original church of Mont Saint Michel was rather small, but the church and its surroundings grew as time passed. Much of this construction was financed by ducal patronage. After the Norman conquest of England in 1066, the church gave its support to duke William of Normandy in his claim to the English throne.

This resulted in the church gaining both political and financial power to expand the constructions on Mont Saint Michel. The church was originally a typical Romanesque church but it was, just as many other churches during the late medieval period, affected by the wave of Gothic architecture that spread throughout Europe. The church is today seen as a Gothic church.

Fortifications

Throughout the Middle Age, a village grew up around the church, mostly on the eastern side of the island. Many of these old buildings are still standing today. In the 14th century, during the Hundred Years War between France and England, the church of Mont Saint Michel and its surrounding village was fortified in order to be able to fend off English attackers.

Much of the walls around the island dates back to this period. The English did assault the island several times, but were unable to seize it.

Pilgrimage

Mont Saint Michel has ever since its creation been a place of pilgrimage, but its importance grew during the Middle Age. For nearly one thousand years, people have traveled to Mont Saint Michel in hope for salvation. The land strip between land and the island was called “the path to paradise” and it’s quite easy to understand the fascination people had, and still have, for this place.

Mont Saint Michel stands like a beacon of light in the flat landscape, almost like taken from a fairytale or a movie.

Mont Saint Michel’s popularity as a centre of pilgrimage did however decrease with the Reformation which began in early 16th century.

New use

By the time of the French Revolution, there were scarcely any monks in residence. After the revolution, the church was closed and converted into a prison, designed to hold religious and political enemies to the new regime.

Restoration

In 1836, influential figures including the popular writer Victor Hugo, launched a campaign to restore what was seen as a national architectural treasure. This lead to a closure of the prison almost 30 years later and Mont Saint Michel was declared a historic monument in 1874.

Why visit Mont Saint Michel ?

Mont Saint Michel is one of the most remarkable examples of medieval architecture in the whole world. Together with its surroundings, Mont Saint Michel is simply breathtaking.
Mont Saint Michel was the first French site to be added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites in 1979.

It was listed with criteria such as “cultural”, “historical”, “of architectural significance”, as well as “human-created” and “natural beauty”. It’s a clear testament to how special and unique this place really is.

The tides

While the Mont Saint Michel itself is outstanding, it is not the only thing this area is known for. The other thing is its tidewater. Tidewater is caused by the gravity of the sun and the moon, together with the earth’s rotation. The tide varies the most shortly after a full moon. Mont Saint Michel happens to have some of the highest tides in all of Europe.

The tide varies greatly; roughly 15 meters between high and low water marks. This area also has some of the fastest moving tides. During the period when the tides shift the most, the sea pulls back 15 kilometers from the coast and comes in again very quickly.

As Victor Hugo described it, the water moves “as swiftly as a galloping horse”.  Needless to say, it is dangerous to venture alone into the bay.

While Mont Saint Michel no longer attracts masses of pilgrims, it attracts another type of visitor. You guessed it; tourists. The island itself only has a population of around 50, but it is visited by around 3.5 million people each year.

Mont Saint Michel location

Mont Saint Michel is located on the border between lower Normandy and Brittany in northern France. The mountain is situated approximately one kilometer off the Normandy’s north coast, at the mouth of the Couesnon River, near Avranches.

For the exact location of Mont Saint Michel, check out the location Map to the right.

Mont Saint Michel Video