Friday, February 24, 2017

Rocamadour - A Fascinating Place

One of the places on our touring of central France was Rocamadour. This is a village built into the wall of a river valley that Jacques wanted to visit. Before leaving Saint Cirq Lapopie, the chef/owner of the hotel gave us a route to approach the village with the best view. We followed back roads through little towns which only took about 100 yards to enter the town and exit the town. Very quaint. After gassing  up in La Bastide and accidentally finding ourselves on the right road to Rocamadour, we set out on the winding road to the town.

Approaching from the suggested route, we could not see the village until we made the turn around a sharp corner and there it was in front of us. The sky brightened and we stopped on the side of the road to get a photo of this amazing site. There it was, a town, cathedral and chateau built into the rock wall of the valley. The back walls of many of the buildings, especially the cathedral, are actually the wall of the cliff.

We drove up to a small parking area and walked into the town. Very small area with a few small hotels and assorted cafes. Being almost winter, it was not very crowded (i.e. hardly a soul). From the base it was 216 steps up to the cathedral. We decided to take the elevator that was built into the cliff to save a bit of energy.

After exiting the elevator, we found the Church of the Holy Savior and the Crypt of Saint Amadour. This location is another site on the Pilgrimage to Compostello and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. I never knew these pilgrims had so many stops along the way from where ever they came from.

St. Amadour really wasn't a saint. In the 12th century the completely intact body of a man was found buried in the side of the cliff as the townsfolk were constructing the church. He was re-buried and named Amandour which is an old French language name for "The Lover" (Amoureux). Somehow he became a saint over time. Not sure how. His body was venerated in the crypt until 1562 when it was dismembered by the Hugennots. What was left is in the church. It is interesting to know that those people like the Hugennots and the Capetians actually existed and were not just figures in our Western Civ books.

Through that portal was the church. You can see it is built right into the wall and the back wall of each of these buildings is solid rock. This reminded us a bit of Escher's staircases.

There is a Black Madonna in the chapel of the church.

And the wall behind the huge organ pipes is the cliffside.

On the climb to the top of the cliff, there were Stations of the Cross along the walk. It was a slow clmb to the top. 
 Once at the top, we tried to enter the chateau but there was coin operated turn style that requred 2 euro each. We had no change. A sign said for change, return to the elevator.

Seeing what we had for a descent back to the elevator, we decided to skip the entry into the chateau.
This was really an extraordinary stop on our tour. Not too many places are quite like this. Glad we took the time to find it. It was worth it.

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