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Sacred and simple, Romanesque art is the perfect architectural style for Auvergne. With more than 250 buildings, the Romanesque heritage in the region is one of the richest in France and Europe. Contemporary art enhances and complements some of the sites, such as the 37 stained-glass windows in Brioude. Don't miss it!
You'll find Romanesque buildings In towns such as Orcival, Brioude, Chanteuges, Issoire, Mauriac, Saint-Nectaire, Chatel-Montagne and Lavaudieu to name but a few. Built between the 10th and 13th centuries, these structures clearly demonstrate the long-standing predominance of the Romanesque style here at a time when other regions were embracing the Gothic style.
Five of these buildings are referred to as "Major Churches" due to the uniformity and purity of their architectural style:
Notre-Dame-du-Port, in Clermont-Ferrand (listed as UNESCO World Heritage)
Saint-Nectaire, in the Massif du Sancy area
Saint-Austremoine in Issoire, the largest and most extensively decorated
Notre-Dame in Orcival built in the 12th century
Saint-Saturnin, simple and peaceful, the smallest of the five "majors".
In the Allier, the church of Châtel-Montagne, situated in the Bourbonnaise mountain area, admirably expresses all the power of Auvergne's Romanesque art. That of Saint-Menoux is one of the largest in the département. In the département of the Cantal, Notre-Dame-des-Miracles in Mauriac is the jewel in the crown of Auvergne's Romanesque art heritage, a remarkable example of architectural know-how.
In Haute-Loire, the town of Le Puy-en-Velay is rightly proud of its outstanding Romanesque buildings, including the Notre-Dame cathedral complex, listed as World Heritage of Humanity by Unesco. Finally, Lavaudieu, is one of the few abbeys in France to possess an unspoiled Romanesque cloister.
In the very heart of the town of Brioude is the basilica of Saint-Julien, one of the most impressive buildings in Auvergne, due to its size, its architecture and its interior décor. The strength of Romanesque art is marvellously illuminated by contemporary art. The artist Kim En Joong "sheds light" on the purity, simplicity and strength of Romanesque art in the basilica of Saint-Julien in Brioude.
This Korean painter recently produced a series of 37 non-figurative stained-glass windows for the basilica in the town of Brioude in the Haute-Loire. This is the first time that an artist has undertaken a project of such a scale during the restoration of a religious building.
Marie-Rose Pommier, who has been organising visits to the basilica for 20 years now, is today seeing the building in a new light: "The atmosphere inside changes by the minute. It's a permanent, ongoing light show: the illumination of something sacred. Kim En Joong has done a superb job of taking up the challenge presented to him by the town of Brioude, that of giving this fine example of Romanesque art a whole new degree of intensity through the production of new stained-glass windows".