(active 1120-1146 in Burgundy)

Exterior view

begun 1133
Abbey of Fontenay, Marmagne (Côte-d'Or)

Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) severely criticized Cluny for its opulence, the distractions caused by the numerous pictures, and the continual masses which kept the monks from their physical work. He wanted to return to the original of St benedict. In Burgundy he founded four new monasteries, the first of which, Cîteaux, gave the name to the new order of St Benedict, the Cistercian. Only one of these four monasteries has retained its original appearance, Fontenay.

The former Cistercian monastery was founded in 1118. With its church, cloister, refectory, sleeping quarters, bakery and ironworks, it is an excellent illustration of the ideal of self-sufficiency as practiced by the earliest communities of Cistercian monks.

The Abbey of Fontenay, along with other Cistercian abbeys, forms a connecting link between Romanesque and Gothic architectures.

The photo shows the west front of the church. High windows on the exterior walls as well as the west wall are the only sources of light in the interior.

View the ground plan of the whole site of Fontenay Abbey.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.