The town is best known for the abbey of La Chaise-Dieu, a majestic cathedral rising from the midst of a forest, and its famous music festival.
When, in 1043, Robert de Turlande left the canon of Brioude in search of a more ascetic life, it was on this granite plateau at an altitude of 1082 metres that he chose to live. La Casa Dei (House of God) was born...
Robert de Turlande was soon joined by hundreds of disciples and in 1050 he founded a Benedictine monastery which rapidly grew into an abbey with many outlying priories depending on it and a huge influence throughout Europe.
Robert de Turlande, a tireless worker and an inexhaustibly charitable man, was canonised Saint Robert in 1070, just three years after his death. Three centuries later a monk from the abbey of La Chaise Dieu became Pope under the name of Clement VI. His affection for the place where he began his vocation was so great that he asked to be buried there, in an abbey that he considered a very worthy resting place.
The construction of the present day gothic church began in 1344, under the orders of the architect responsible for the building of the Papal Palace in Avignon, also commissioned by Pope Clement VI. The façade, its towers and the Clementine Tower were completed in 1376 thanks to another Pope, Gregory XI, the former Pope’s nephew, in a style combining religious art and defensive architecture. The legacy of this glorious past is this remarkable heritage site, which has been preciously maintained over time and now serves as an exceptional acoustic setting for the prestigious La Chaise Dieu Music Festival launched in 1966 by the Hungarian pianist Georges Cziffra.
Be sure to admire the 'Danse Macabre' (Dance of Death), a stunning 15th Century fresco painting, the beautifully carved stalls above which hang splendid tapestries, masterpieces of early 16th Century tapestry work, surrounding the tomb of Clement VI (1353) in the choir of the abbey-church.