Walking on this medieval street, feeling like not in the religious site, but mostly feeling like on the beach area suchike in Bali-Indonesia, 'cos i can find many souvenirs same like selling in Bali island :))
Completely rebuilt in 1868, the former abbey palace architecture obeys a troubadour style, very popular during the nineteenth century. It is surmounted by a tall tower pepper to Viollet-le-Duc. Inside, the Museum of Sacred Art is home to a Bible of the sixteenth century incunabula.
According to legend, St. Amadour, a witness to the martyrdom of St. Paul and St. Peter, traveled to the location and took up hermitage following his wife's death. The story might be part myth and part history, but the legend, beloved of locals, adds toRocamadour's charm and magic.
Over the ensuing centuries the crypt of St. Amadour and the chapel of the Black Virgin underwent periods of prosperity and decline. In 1562 the chapel was pillaged and burnt by the Protestants, and the body of St. Amadour was destroyed. Reconstruction of the shrine began in the 1800’s and through it all, the statue of the Black Virgin remained unharmed. The chapel and its legendary statue continue to be the venerated and Rocamadour remains one of the most popular Marian holy places in all of France.
Intentionally hundreds of icons of Mary have black faces and hands. In France they are called "Vierge Noires" or Black Virgins. In other countries they are called Black Madonnas.
A wooden Black Madonna reputed to have been carved by Saint Amator (Amadour) himself.
The Chapelle de Notre-Dame is immediately adjacent to the Basilique St-Saveur. Above the door leading to the chapel is an iron sword that, according to legend, belonged to Roland. Inside, the chapel is devoted almost exclusively to the venerated Black Madonna statue.
Backed against the cliff, the Basilique St-Sauveur was built in the Romanesque-Gothic style from the 11th to the 13th centuries. It's decorated with paintings and inscriptions recalling visits of celebrated persons, including Philippe the Handsome.
A cluster of chapels and churches high on a rocky plateau. And to going up I need to climb a stairway of 216 weathered steps. Even today, devout pilgrims make the climb on their knees in penance. Along the way are 14 Stations of the Cross culminating in the Cross of Jerusalem at the top. There is also an elevator from the lower town (Basse Ville).
At the back of the balcony off the Parvis, against the steep rock face is the Tomb of St.-Amadour. The body was destroyed during the Religious Wars in 1562 but this is still a venerated site. To the right is an accoladed Renaissance doorway that enters the Chapel of the Virgin. Jutting out from the rock face at the level of the shield above the decorated doorway is the miraculous sword of Roland (Durandal), which inserted itself there. High up on the side of this alcove is the lateral wall of the Chapel of St. Michael. Here is a colorful 13C fresco (discussed in a separate Tip).
The 19C Chateau was built upon the remains of a 14C fort and is privately owned (fee), but open to the public. We did not go in. The parking area was near the church and admission to the ramparts was free. It is here that one has the superb views of the gorge, the town and the environs. It is best to take in the views after you are familiar with what is below, at the end of your visit. They are the most memorable part of the journey for most tourists.
The town of Rocamadour (pop. 800) stretches out in a linear fashion, N>S, along its one very narrow street (r. Roland-le-Preux becomes r. de la Couronnerie) as it sits on a shelf on the west wall of the gorge, with the small Alzou river at its bottom. In the south end of town (the oldest part) it is paralleled by a still older street (r. de la Mercerie) which extends from the Bishop's Palace foundations to its southern gate. In all there are remains of 5 gates in town. The houses are all old and many feature flat stone roofs. Vehicular traffic is not allowed within the town, presenting logistical problems for getting here (See Transportation Tips). Vast numbers of tourists arrive for an hour or two by busses as a stop on assorted tours.
The vista from the belvedere allows one to vizualize the town below. Like any townscape, it is more satisfying if you have walked the town first. (Why do so many people rush to go up the Eiffel tower when they have not yet see Paree?). Of course the view of the gorge and the causse are impressive with l'Hospitalet 2 km off to the north and if you can find it, the little Alzou river that carved it all (?) at the bottom of the gorge. It looks immense, the town is 500m above the floor and the top is maybe twice that. (Grand Canyon 1500m)
The Calvary is the name given to a winding path between the Chateau level and the Parvis. Along the way are also grottoes and a large Cross for devotions of the pilgrims. The Stations are polychrome statuary scenes lodged in protective small chapels with the typical iconography.
The Palace of the Bishops of Tulle is the remaining building on the Place. Its base is in the Pl. des Senhais which is a large terrace with shops, hotels and a restaurant and leads down some steps into the rest of the town (r. de la Mercerie). It has been much restored but still shows its defensive elements with a corner pepper pot tower, covered defensive walk and machicolations. However the tall windows make it look like a land-locked Venetian Palace. It houses a Museum of Sacred Art that exhibits some old stained glass and other curiosities.
The two colorful 12C frescos and the fragment below are worthy examples of very early large religious paintings before Giotto. They appear to derives from Byzantine models on reliquaries or illuminations. The picture on the left has a gracious Mary receiving the Annunciation and on the right her meeting with Elizabeth. Below it is a sketch, lightly colored of the same period and probably another part of an unknown subject. Note also the framing cornices of the upper fresco which display fine modillion heads. These frescos were originally on the wall of the Chapel of Our Lady in the 12C . The adjacent chamber was destroyed by rock fall or plunderers or both. The reduced chapel was rebuilt smaller to the right.