Grande-Sauve Abbey

The Abbey of La Sauve -Majeure is a former Benedictine abbey in the French region of Aquitaine. Their ruins stand on a hill above the town of La Sauve in the department of Gironde, near the city of Bordeaux. Since 1998, the ruins are awarded as part of world heritage by UNESCO " Camino de Santiago in France."


The name of the abbey derives from Silva Major, large forest. 1079 founded the monk of Corbie Gérard there at the site of a former hermitage became a monastery. With the support of William of Aquitaine, and by its location on the Camino, it developed quickly, in the year of death of Gerard in 1095 it counted more than 300 monks and twenty monasteries were assigned as priories.

The grave of Gerard, who was canonized in 1197, became a place of pilgrimage. The church dedicated to him was inaugurated in 1231. You and the monastery buildings were further enlarged and equipped based on rich donations over the next two hundred years. The remains of some richly decorated tombs can be found today in the parish church and the local Museum of La Sauve.

The Hundred Years' War, the slow decline of the still rich monastery began. After the end of which lived there six monks. Nevertheless, a reconstruction has been addressed from 1456 until the 17th century, new construction projects were started regularly.

In the French Revolution (1789-1799), the monastery was dissolved and seized his riches. 1804, the services were moved to the parish church of La Sauve, 1809 collapsed the ceiling of the church. In subsequent years, the inhabitants of the place broke off building to use the stones for their own buildings again. 1840, the ruins were declared a national monument.

Between 1837 and 1910 the monastery housed a school, after the collapse of part of a building, the site was finally abandoned, however.

Architectural form

The monastery was attached. The walls that tower over a hill on the north side of the church, form the highest point, from there, the gardens and monastery buildings extend to the southeast. The main facade faces west. From the ruins of which still leaves the form of the church, the cloister, refectory and chapter house of read.

Many walls are still standing, especially the octagonal church tower and the south wall of the nave have survived the destruction. Originally the church had three aisles, terminated by a five spacious transept, at that joined five chapels. The cloister joined on the south side. In the still-intact building on the west side is the refectory.