In 8C AD the town's population was still sufficiently small enough for a monk named Émilion to take up residence there in a hermitage carved into the rock. It was the monks who followed him that started the commercial production of wines from here, which the now UNESCO town became known for. If you choose to go on the monuments tour (which I highly recommend!) you will be taken to this hermitage. It is a very small cross-shaped cave which had restoration and extension work during the 17C. Inside there is Émilion's stone 'armchair' which was cut into the rock, and a small spring runs through near to the entrance. According to legend, this spring was originally located much further downhill, but miraculously moved in order to provide the hermit with some comfort!
Above from the hermitage is the Holy Trinity Chapel which dates to the 13C. The picture below is of the decorated vaulted ceiling. You're also taken to see this on the monuments tour.
|External bell tower belonging to the |
underground monolithic church.
During the medieval period of the town (exact dating is unknown) a monolithic church was dug into the rock. At 38 metres long and 20 metres wide, it is the largest one of its kind in Europe. The picture to the right shows the 14C entrance which was made to replace an earlier more narrow one; you can also see the three story bell tower. The picture below is a close-up of the church's tympanum of the Last Judgement and the Resurrection of the Dead.
This is the Cadène Arch. It dates to the 13C and is located on the Rue de la Cadène. It was designed in order to monitor people moving from the different sections of the town. It also creates the perfect opportunity to have a little break from the trek up the massively steep hill by taking a photo or two!
|This beautiful timbered house adjoins the other side of the arch, and dates to the early 16C.|
The Great Wall, not looking so great in my rather pitiful photo; apologies! It is the remains of a 13C Dominican convent.
|Remnants of the 12C Cardinal's Palace|
I don't rally feel like I've captured the true charm of Saint-Émilion in these pictures. It was just the most spectacular place to visit! I felt like I was surrounded by history in every step that I took around the winding cobbled streets. As I said at the start of the post, if you are visiting the area I strongly recommend taking the time out to visit this completely beautiful town.