Fontevrault Abbey is a fabled place of spiritual, political and cultural power. Established in the 12th century as an abbey, it was the home of Henry the second and his wife Eleanor of Acquitainr, Queen of both France and England and mother of Richard the Lionheart It’s curious that such a grand city for its time was founded by a nomadic monk and that the religious communities who lived there, both men and women , were subject to the ultimate authority to the Abbess of Fontevrault. When I visited on a very hot afternoon, it was feminine spirital power which resonated so strongly for me. The beauty of the architecture is striking as are the detailed adornments, each one conveying a specific spiritual message.
But it wasnt always a place of beauty and retreat; in 1804 Napoleon used it as a prison and this use continued throughout the Nazi occupation.
Today its one of the most popular sites in France-and thats saying something when you think that France is the most visited country in the world. Fontevrault now hosts exhibitions of different artists some of which reflect the amazing history of the sitr.