Mont-Saint-Michel in France - The Wonder of the Western World

Mont-Saint-Michel (also written as Mont Saint Michel) is a small rocky tidal island in Normandy, France. It is located at the mouth of the Couesnon River near Avranches, about one kilometer off the northwestern coast of France. One of France's most recognizable landmarks, Mont Saint-Michel is an international place of pilgrimage as well as a major tourist center.

The mount is best known for the medieval Benedictine Abbey dedicated to the archangel St. Michael and steepled church that occupies most of the 1kilometer-diameter clump of rocks jutting out of the waters of the English Channel. The dramatic abbey and the village that grew up in the shadow of its great walls are surrounded by a magnificent bay, which is the theater of the greatest tidal ranges in Europe.

Le Mont-Saint-Michel was used as a stronghold of Romano-British culture and power in the 6th and 7th centuries until it was sacked by the Franks. It wasn’t until the 8th century when the first religious building was constructed on the site and from that point forward it continued to grow in both stature and importance. The abbey was closed and converted into a prison from the time of the French Revolution up until the time of the Second Empire. The prison was finally closed in 1863, and the mount was declared a historic monument in 1874 considering it as a national architectural treasure. Mont-Saint-Michel and the Bay of Mont Saint Michel were added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1979.

Mont-Saint-Michel is called The Wonder of the Western World. It is among the top four pilgrimage sites in Christendom through the ages. Today, more than 3.5 million visitors flood the single street of the tiny island each year and there are far more tourists than pilgrims.

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