Saint-Émilion in Nouvelle-Aquitaine

Friday, 10 May 2024 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, UNESCO World Heritage
Reading Time:  5 minutes

© Chensiyuan/cc-by-sa-4.0

© Chensiyuan/cc-by-sa-4.0

Saint-Émilion (Gascon: Sent Milion) is a commune in the Gironde department in Nouvelle-Aquitaine in Southwestern France. In the heart of the country of Libournais (the area around Libourne), in a region of wine hills, Saint-Émilion is a medieval city located at the crossroads of Bordeaux, Saintonge and Périgord. The town and surrounding vineyards was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, owing to its long, living history of wine-making, Romanesque churches and ruins stretching all along steep and narrow streets.

Saint-Émilion is located 35 km (22 mi) east of Bordeaux, between Libourne and Castillon-la-Bataille. Saint-Émilion station has rail connections to Bordeaux, Bergerac and Sarlat-la-Canéda. Vineyards make up more than 67% of the land area of the commune. Within the region there is a mix of medieval Romanesque religious architecture and vineyard “chateaux”, built in 18th and 19th centuries. In the villages, however, most of the buildings are modest, one-story stone houses dating from the 19th century.

© flickr.com - Dennis Jarvis/cc-by-sa-2.0 © JLPC/cc-by-sa-3.0 © Schrodingers Mongoose/cc-by-sa-3.0 © Chensiyuan/cc-by-sa-4.0 © Chensiyuan/cc-by-sa-4.0 © Fabien1309/cc-by-sa-2.0-fr
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© flickr.com - Dennis Jarvis/cc-by-sa-2.0
The monolithic church of Saint-Émilion is an 11th century church carved entirely out of a limestone cliff. It is one of the largest underground churches in Europe, with an estimated 15,000 cubic meters of rock extracted. The great hall measures 38 meters long and 20 meters wide, divided into three naves of six bays. Like many medieval structures, the church probably had a rich décor of painted murals; however, only a few bits of frescoes remain. Iconographic works, such as depictions of lions, serpents, centaurs, and cherubim, can be seen on the walls and ceilings, possibly in reference to Psalms. Today, visitors can enter the church and view its catacombs. No documents exist that discuss the building of the monolithic church, but it is hypothesized that construction took place from the late 11th century to the early 12th century. Its purpose was probably to venerate and conserve the body of the 8th century Breton monk Saint Émilion. A small monastic community that gathered near his tomb appears in late 11th century texts, and Bordeaux archbishop Arnaud Guiraud reformed the community in 1110. An inscription on one of the monolithic church pillars mentions only the day of the dedication to Saint Émilion, September 7, and regretfully not the year.

The Tour du Roy is a limestone donjon built in 1237. From its name (meaning ‘the King’s tower’), some hypothesize it was constructed by order of Henry III, King of England and Duke of Aquitaine. Other sources say the Tour du Roy isn’t royal, and was merely the municipal bell tower for the town hall until its 1720 razing by the Jurade to enlarge the other town hall in Market Square. The Tour du Roy has a height of almost 15 meters and a width of more than 9 meters. Visitors can climb inside the square tower for a panoramic view of the town. The tower is used by the Jurade to proclaim the judgment of new wine on the third Sunday of June, and the harvest ban on the third Sunday of September.

Saint-Émilion is one of the principal red wine areas of Bordeaux (Saint-Émilion AOC) along with the Médoc, Graves and Pomerol. The region is much smaller than the Médoc and adjoins Pomerol. As in Pomerol and the other appellations on the right bank of the Gironde, the primary grape varieties used are the Merlot and Cabernet Franc, with relatively small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon also being used by some châteaux. Saint Émilion wines were not included in the 1855 Bordeaux classification. The first formal classification in Saint-Émilion was made in 1955. Unlike the 1855 classification, it is regularly revised.

Read more on Saint-Émilion Tourism, Wines from Saint-Émilion and Wikipedia Saint-Émilion (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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