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Abbey of Montmajour

Provence’s oldest abbey was founded in the 10th century by Benedictine monks and built on what was then a swampy island in the middle of the River Rhône north-east of the UNESCO-listed city of Arles.

The monks of Montmajour enjoyed several centuries of wealth, with the abbey thriving thanks to pilgrims who visited to see a fragment of the True Cross displayed in the Chapel of the Holy Cross. By the end of the 14th century, plague and the Hundred Years War affected the fortunes of the monastery; a defensive watchtower and fortified walls were added but it fell into disrepute. In 1639 its fortunes were briefly revived by an influx of new monks but the French Revolution in the 1790s saw Montmajour abandoned and derelict.

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