camino de santiago
  • Saint Michel d'Aiguilhe chapel

    Saint Michel d'Aiguilhe chapel image

    Le Puy and Getting to The Saint-Michel d'Aiguilhe chapel

    Le Puy is a town in France and plays host to the starting point of one of the Camino de Santiago routes (Le Puy route). It is relatively small with a population of around 20,000 people, but it has some very popular sites to see. One of the coolest being The Chapel of Saint-Michel d'Aiguilhe. The chapel is located on top of a volcano in town. It is a must see if you are beginning your Camino in Le Puy.

    History of Saint-Michel d'Aiguilhe chapel

    The Chapel of Saint-Michel was built in 962 by bishop Godescalc and the deacon Trianus. This chapel ended up attracting many pilgrims because of its location in the starting town for the Camino de Santiago. During the 12th century, the chapel was enlarged with two side chapels, a bell tower, and much more. It was restored and repainted back to the original style making the chapel bigger and look new. Minor restorations were made through the centuries to bring it back to its former glory. In 1955, archaeologists found sacred objects in the altar which are now displayed behind an iron gate for visitors to look at. The items displayed include an 11th-century wooden crucifix, likely belonging to a pilgrim and a metal Byzantine cross.

    What to see when visiting Saint-Michel d'Aiguilhe chapel

    Before heading up the hill to see the Chapel of Saint-Michel d'Aiguilhe, it is smart to take a look at the Chapel of St. Clair. There is a doorway with the phases of the moon carved into it. After seeing this chapel most people will make the climb to the top of the 268 steps to reach the Chapel of Saint-Michel. Once you reach the top there are beautiful views of the town all around the chapel. This is a great opportunity to take out your phone or camera and take a picture of the stunning French landscape. After this, you can enter the chapel and enjoy architecture from as far back as the 10th century. If you plan on starting to walk the Camino in Le Puy, why not come a day early and see this quaint but historically powerful city.

    Statue of Virgin Mary in Le Puy

    One of the main sights seen by followers of the Le Puy route of the Camino de Santiago is the statue of the Virgin Mary that overlooks Le Puy, France. It sits on top of a 2,500-foot high hill and is constructed of iron from hundreds of melted Russian cannons. Pilgrims walking the Camino will climb to the top of the hill to get a closer look at the statue and enjoy the stunning views of the city. It has been said that this is one of the most breath-taking sights in the region and is a great way to start the long trek to Santiago de Compostela.

    Significance and Construction

    The statue was built using the plans of French sculptor Jean-Marie Bonnassieux, between 1856 and 1860. After it was constructed it became the tallest statue in the world until it was dethroned by the Statue of Liberty in 1886. The statue was constructed with the use of melted down Russian cannons donated to the town by Napoleon III. The cannons were taken during the Siege of Sevastopol between 1854-1855. They were then presented to the town in front of 120,000 people during September of 1860, making it one of the most unique and interesting statues in the region. Many pilgrims walking the Camino may not be aware of the history of the statue of the Virgin Mary in Le Puy. Knowing a bit about the history of the statue makes seeing it all that more special.  It was fully restored in 2012 making the statue look like new for the pilgrims of today. The statue and base are recorded as historical monuments making this a must see for Camino travellers along the Le Puy Route.

    click here for more information aboutthe History of St. James

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