Abbaye Sainte-Marie d'Alet (more commonly known as the Abbey of Alet les Bains), is situated between the Aude river and the Pyrenees mountains in the heart of Cathar country. The abbey is considered by some to be the most beautiful ruin in France.
History of Alet les Bains Abbey
Founded circa 813 AD and consecrated to the Virgin Mary, the monks of the abbey adopted the Benedictine rule. The abbey was damaged by the attacks of the count of Carcassone in the 11th century, but survived due to its relics of the True Cross which attracted pilgrims. Repair and further construction were undertaken in the latter 12th century, including the addition of defensive walls and trenches in 1197.
In 1318, during the stormy period of the Cathar Crusade, the abbey church became a cathedral. A Gothic choir was added. In 1577, the abbey was destroyed by Protestants during the Wars of Religion. It was never completely rebuilt, and what remained of the abbey was further destroyed in 1792.
What to See at Alet les Bains Abbey
Resplendent in its mountainside setting, the ruined abbey is characterized by warm colorsthat soak up the sun.
Of the original abbey, remains of two towers can still be seen, St. Michael's Tower (north) and Notre-Dame Tower (south). The small chancel is well-preserved. The pillar capitals are ornately decorated with vegetation and geometric patterns.
To the north of the church is the Romanesque chapter house, with interesting motifs on its capitals.
Other attractions of the town of Alet-les-Bains include a natural spa and medieval houses, including one in which Nostradamus may have lived.
Quick Facts on Alet les Bains Abbey
|Names:||Abbaye d'Alet-les-Bains · Abbaye Sainte-Marie d'Alet · Alet les Bains Abbey|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||42.995900° N, 2.255191° E|
|Address:||Alet les Bains, France|
|Lodging:||View hotels near Alet les Bains Abbey|
Map of Alet les Bains Abbey
Below is a location map and aerial view of Alet les Bains Abbey. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.