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Photo of Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire Abbey

Tour de Gauzlin

View from west of the Tour de Gauzlin, named for the abbot who commissioned it, at Saint-Benoit-sur-Loire Abbey. The west "porch-tower" was begun in 1020, but was probably not completed until around 1070. The lower level serves as a porch for the west entrance, while the taller upper level houses the Chapel of St. Michael (not accessible to the public). There was once a third level, but this was removed in 1525 and replaced by the present unusual roof in the 17th century. With three portals on each side, the tower is a model of the New Jerusalem as described in Revelation 21: "And it had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates... on the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates." The bottom level is open and divided into nine squares by pillars and transverse arches. The columns are decorated with narrative capitals of c.1070-80, including scenes from Revelation.

Photo © David Joyal.

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