© Church of Notre-Dame de Châtel-Montagne | Cindy Michaud
Visit

Châtel‑Montagne

The charming village of Châtel-Montagne perched atop a hill is home to one of the most beautiful Romanesque churches in Auvergne.

Châtel-Montagne

The village

Châtel-Montagne has occupied a strategic position since antiquity, first as a Gallic oppidum and then as the seat of an important Roman garrison.

The importance of the roads that cross at Châtel, allowed the holding of regular fairs leading to the wealth of the village. This fact is attested by the inscription of Châtel-Montagne on the list of the 30 most important cities and towns of Bourbonnais in the 16th century.

Jewel of the Romanesque Art

Church of Our Lady

Captivating and majestic, Notre-Dame has radiated for ten centuries on the northern end of the Bourbonnaise Mountain. Originally a small church, the monks of Cluny enlarged it from 1095 to 1210 to become the building we know today. Thus, the abbey of Cluny transformed the church of Notre-Dame into a priory until the end of the 15th century. After the priory was abandoned, Notre-Dame became a parish church again, attached to the diocese of Moulins in 1823.

Some adventures

Before that, the church had a few ups and downs during the Revolution: in 1793, the Jacobin municipality cut down the spire of the stone bell tower, burned the statues of the Saints and the Virgin, the religious and civil archives of the village and desecrated the funeral monument. In April 1799, the building was sold and became a warehouse for saltpetre and gunpowder, which saved it from demolition. It was reallocated to worship under the concordat in 1801. In 1840, Notre-Dame was registered in the inventory of Historic Monuments.

Our Lady

among the major churches of Auvergne

Its builders used beige-pink granite from quarries in Chatel. The latter being exhausted, the restorations of the XIXth century were carried out with greyish granite and mechanically sawn. Located at the junction of Auvergne and Burgundy, close to Berry, built by monks of Cluny, the church of Châtel-Montagne bears in its construction the imprint of these various influences. This is what makes it unique!

 

Also to be discovered

Unusual

Three bells

In Châtel-Montagne, bell ringers still take turns to ring the bells. Weighing 390, 416 and 613 kilograms, they require accurate and harmonious movements and a certain strength.

Vichy Montagne Bourbonnaise Tourist Office

The Vichy Montagne Bourbonnaise tourist office has a Romanesque art space on the history of the church (model, grimoires and video).

Clock with bare mechanism

Made in 1927 in the Jura on a German model sits on the south aisle toward the sacristy. Its steel and bronze wheels and hardened steel sprockets are driven by two granite counterweights. The heavier 300-kilogram one must be reassembled weekly by hand.

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