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“Thoroughly recommended, but don't count on hearing a service” 5 of 5 stars
Review of La Basilique Sainte Marie-Madeleine

La Basilique Sainte Marie-Madeleine
Place de la Basilique, 89450 Vezelay, France
03-86-33-39-50
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Top Rated
$278*
and up
Small-Group Burgundy Day Trip from Paris...
Ranked #1 of 4 Attractions in Vezelay
Type: Architectural Buildings, Religious Sites, Churches/ Cathedrals, Cultural
Activities: City walk sightseeing, Dining
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Attraction details
Owner description: This massive medieval cathedral dominates the village of Vézelay.
Brighton, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
37 reviews 37 reviews
9 attraction reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
“Thoroughly recommended, but don't count on hearing a service”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 3, 2014

We visited this imposing Romanesque basilica on a cold but brilliantly sunny day in February and were entirely on our own as we made our way upwards through the attractive winding streets of medieval Vezelay. Situated at the very top of the only hill in town, the size and scale of the building particularly impress and we had gasped at our first view whilst driving towards the town. There are wonderful views of the surrounding countryside from the rear terracing behind the abbey and also from the walkway around the base of the old town walls. We had hoped to hear the midday offices; arriving well before the advertised time for the half hour service. However all remained quiet and solitary.
We stepped back outside uplifted by the light in the magnificent nave and choir; intrigued by the extraordinary stone carvings on the capitals in the nave and over the main doors; impressed by the beautiful stained glass windows above the main doors and still amazed by the sheer scale of the building so superbly positioned within the landscape.
We were very pleased we had come but were, of course, just a little bit disappointed not to have heard the voices of the monastic community. We wondered if we had just been unlucky or whether they only hold services within the basilica during particular months of the year?
Still one of the starting points for the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage the church and the hill were listed as a UNESCO world heritage sites in 1979. Of religious historical importance the abbey has been a site of pilgrimage as the guardian of relics of Mary Magdalene since 1050AD and until 1280 it was also believed that her body was entombed there. In the 12th century, when St Thomas a Becket preached from here, it was said that all France had visited Vezelay. In 1190 Richard the Lionheart departed for the Third Crusade from the town and in 1217 St Francis of Assisi founded a community at the abbey.
Yes, if are in Burgundy it is well worth a visit.
Tip: Quirky cafe Cabulus - just a few steps back down the hill, with it's vaulted ceiling and eccentric decor is worth a coffee stop

Visited February 2014
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English first
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
9 attraction reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
“Hilltop abbey with commanding views”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 30, 2014 via mobile

This place is a UNESCO World Heritage site and you soon see why. An unspoilt medieval abbey church towers high above this tourist honeypot with stunning views across the surrounding countryside, not least the surrounding countryside. Can be a little too much at weekends when the place is packed to the rafters, so best to visit in the evening when the tourists have gone

Visited June 2014
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Berkshire, England
Top Contributor
114 reviews 114 reviews
51 attraction reviews
Reviews in 66 cities Reviews in 66 cities
56 helpful votes 56 helpful votes
“A really beautiful romanesque basilica”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 25, 2014

This is one of the greatest romanesque buildings that you can visit. It is so atmospheric. You start with the magnificent carving of the tympanum as you enter, followed by the pure beauty of the space as you enter the nave.The basilica is perched on top of a hill and is quite a site as you approach the village of Vezelay.There is a car park at the top of the hill, but I think that it is worth climbing up through the charming village and then enter the basilica.

Visited June 2014
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Silkeborg, Denmark
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
7 attraction reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Absolutely stunned”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 23, 2014

I have travelled all around the world, yet Vezelay and the church of St. Madeleine still stands out as one of the most magnificent. It remains one of the most beautiful and breathtaking places I have ever seen. The way the town is build around this amazing monument is absolutely stunning.

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Ann Arbor, MI
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
6 attraction reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
“Romanesque at its best”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 5, 2014

Vézelay was where three crusades were preached and is one of the four terminus churches where pilgrims begin the trek to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Important church with important carvings. There is a lovely park with scenic overlooks that wraps around the apse-end of the cathedral.

Visited May 2014
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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