Sunday, 16 June 2013

Church on Sunday...Saint-Hilaire-le Grand

We return to Poitiers today to visit the Romanesque Saint-Hilaire-le Grand. Not the obvious first choice monument perhaps on list of visitors to the city but in our opinion it is a 'must see'. 

We knew as soon as we entered that here was something special.It was only later we discovered that the church is in fact a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it is part of the Route of Santiagode Compostela in France.It is dedicated to the city's first bishop and dates from the 11th century.

 It has a glorious apse surrounded by chapels.

As you wander around you are stuck by the seemingly inappropriate number of pillars inside the church, this is explained by the fact that its 11th century wooden roof was changed to a stone roof in the 12th century ...think they wanted to be sure it would stay up...but it makes for a great feature.

There is an interesting spiral staircase and a fine organ in the church...

and perhaps my favourite 'Joan' so far!

Carved on the base was 'Andre Besoueut  salon 1912' but cannot find who or what  this refers to.

A walk around the exterior throws up an interesting array of features

Including this decapitated statue of Mary and the baby Jesus from 1871. 

The church's history is filled with rampaging enemies(Saracens and Normans) and disasters (partial collapse) but it has survived them all to be the fine building it is today. The majority of the restoration work was carried out in the 19th century.

 If you visit Poitiers you should make a point of adding this fine example onto your list.

1 comment: