Abbey of Fontenay

Abbey of Fontenay
Cistercian Abbey of Fontenay *
UNESCO World Heritage Site
The church and convent building seen from the gardens.
Country France
Type Cultural
Criteria iv
Reference 165
Region ** Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1981 (5th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List
** Region as classified by UNESCO
Plan of the church.

The Abbey of Fontenay is a former Cistercian abbey located in the commune of Marmagne, near Montbard, in the département of Côte-d'Or in France. It was founded by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux in 1118, and built in the Romanesque style. It is one of the oldest and most complete Cistercian abbeys in Europe, and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981.



Bernard of Claivaux founded the Abbey of Fontenay only a few years after he left Cîteaux Abbey to found Clairvaux Abbey. The abbey church was dedicated by Pope Eugene III in 1147. Located in a small forested valley 60 kilometres northwest of Dijon, it achieved great prosperity in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Fontenay enjoyed the protection of the Kings of France but was plundered in the Hundred Year's War and the Wars of Religion. Later, its fortunes declined, and the refectory was demolished by the monks in 1745. The abbey was closed in the French Revolution, and became a paper mill until 1902, owned for most of its period of operation by the Montgolfier family. In 1905 the abbey was bought by Édouard Aynard and restored.



The church of the abbey was built from 1139 to 1147 in the prevalent Romanesque style, and marked by the austerity typical of Cistercian architecture. It has a cruciform plan, with a nave 66 metres long and 8 metres wide, with two aisles, and a transept measuring 19 metres. The cloister measures 36×38 metres. The chapterhouse is vaulted, with heavy ribs. There is a large dormitory which was re-roofed in the fifteenth century with an arched braced roof of chestnut timber.

Apart from the demolished refectory, the abbey retains almost all of its original buildings: church, dormitory, cloister, chapter house, caldarium or "warming room", dovecote and forge, all built in Romanesque style, with later abbot's lodgings and infirmary. Today the abbey buildings are set in modern manicured parterres of lawn and gravel.

View of the dovecote and church
The cloister
The dormitory and common room
The forge
The abbey church
Statue of the Virgin and Christ Child
The cloister
The dormitory
The forge


External links

Coordinates: 47°38′27″N 4°23′23″E / 47.64083°N 4.38972°E / 47.64083; 4.38972

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