📍 🇫🇷 The power of Tournus
"Notre Dame de Paris does not have, like the abbey of Tournus, the grave and massive stature, the round and wide vault, the icy nudity, the majestic simplicity of the buildings which possess semicircular arches [rounded vaults]...", wrote French writer Victor Hugo (1802-1885) in his diary.
These vaults carrying the mass of stones are indeed part of the charm of the Romanesque style in Europe - a style widespread between the years 1000 and 1200 CE. Yes, one is surprised by the presence of these massive pillars as well as by these large transverse cradles which do not prevent the light from entering. The beauty of capitals above most pillars is admirable: budding flowers, full of life, or unlikely monsters. Torture. Masks.
Walking at the back of the abbey, in the ambulatory, you can see rare mosaics on the ground, pagan reworkings by Christianity of zodiac signs according to French historian Emile Mâle: "the Church sanctified these images by interpreting them in the Christian sense... so that the man of labor could recognize the immutable circle of work to which he was condemned until death while the statue of Jesus or the Virgin reminded him that he did not work without hope".
Crypt and upper rooms are worth more than a quick detour too. Perhaps you will find the portrait of a bearded man during your wanderings there. If so, remember that some historians believe it to be the oldest artist's portrait in Western art.
A thing like that..
____ Sources ____
>> Victor Hugo, “Choses vues”, 1832
>> Emile Mâle, “Religious arts in the XIIIe century”, 1923