Certification as "Major Cultural Route of the Council of Europe" for the Federation of Clunisian Sites

A Clunisian Church

It was the first visible paper publication on a large scale since the 1994 document presenting the intentions of the Federation, if we exclude the extremely comprehensive website (see the link to the right).

"Neither William III, duke of Aquitaine and Count of Auvergne, who in 909/910 gave up the domain of Cluny, nor the Abbot Bernon, who returned to organise monastic life, should have had any idea that the enterprise for which they placed the first stone would shake Christianity and would mark Western Europe for several centuries.…. "This incredible ascension is due to the independence of the abbey, placed under direct protection of the Pope and the personality of his first Abbots…".This history which starts with Odilon (927-942), continued with Aymard (942-954) and Mayeul (954-994)…accumulating donations and annexations.

Odilon (994-1049) pursued this work with Pope Gregory V, who strengthened the possessions of Provence and Burgundy. Hugues of Semur (1049-1109) knew how to implement multiple alliances with Castile and Aragon, England and Lombardy…This "Clunisian Church" would from then on go through successive phases of rivalry, or confrontations with other persuasions, then with the Protestant world and phases of consolidation allowing it to reach a unique extension, but its disappearance as an Order and the brutal repression of the French Revolution have made us forget a large part of this glorious history. The recognition of its place in the history of Europe is however today incontestable.


The Federation of Clunisian Sites reunites places in Europe, which have contributed to the extraordinary development and influence of the Abbey, from the 10th to the 18th centuries. The French Revolution, which scattered the last monks, bequeathed to society in a broad sense an immense and diversified, yet scattered heritage. The work undertaken for more than 10 years therefore aimed to identify it, to dedicate university research to it, but also to increase its value through cultural, pedagogical and tourist actions involving the owners, a minority of which is private, but the large majority of which is made up of territorial communities.

The publication of this "Route Chart" in 2004 also made concrete a mature network allowing it to ask the European Institute of Cultural Routes to accompany it in the last phases of concretisation of an ensemble of cultural routes based on the great European axes of the historical installation of the Order. This explicative work on the methodology of the itineraries, the presentation of the frame of work to the elected members of the General Assembly of Nevers in 2004, or the sharing of experiences with other networks at Luxeuil-les-Bains ended in the following formalisation at the start of 2005:

Route I : The cradle of the Clunisian era. Regions: Burgundy (Saône&Loire), Rhone-Alps (Loire, Rhône) Countries: France. Emblematic figure: Hugues of Semur (saint-Hugues), 6th Abbot of Cluny (1049-1109).

Route II: between Burgundy and Empire, a fertile clunisian land. Regions: Franche-Comté (Jura), Rhone-Alps (Ain), cantons of Berne, Neuchâtel and Vaud. Countries: France, Switzerland.

Route III: on the route of Saint Mayeul, the arbiter of Kings. Regions : Rhone-Alps (Rhône, Drôme, Ardèche, Gard, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence). Countries: France. Emblematic figure: The 4th Abbot de Cluny, Mayeul (948-994)

Route IV: a Clunisian springtime in Lombardy. Region: Lombardy. Countries: Italy. On the route of the Cluny Abbots towards Rome, a bouquet of monasteries

Route V: in the steps of Saint Ulrich. Region: Baden-Württemberg. Country: Germany. Emblematic Figure: Ulrich (1029-1093), decisive action for the Clunisian influence outside the Rhineland.

Route VI: The Clunisian Auvergne – Odilon of Mercoeur. Region: Auvergne (Allier, Puy-de-Dôme, Haute-Loire, Cantal). Country: France. Originated in Auvergne (near Lavoûte-Chilhac, where he was to found a great monastery), the 5th Abbot of Cluny, Odilon (994-1049) amplified the spiritual influence in Europe.

Route VII: Cluny, in the direction of Saint Jacques of Compostela. Regions: Aquitaine (Lot&Garonne), Limousin (Corrèze), Midi-Pyrenees (Lot, Tarn&Garonne), Poitou-Charente (Charente), independent province of Aragon. Countries: France, Spain

Route VIII: expansion of Cluny in the North-west of Europe. Regions: Burgundy (Nièvre, Yonne), Centre (Cher, Indre), Ile-de-France, Shropshire. Countries: England, France

The Federation is furthermore studying the extension of these itineraries towards eastern Europe with a relay-association.

Sankt Ulrich Romanesque Basin
The Certification and the Future

It is on the basis of this proposition that the Advisory Committee of the cultural routes of the Council of Europe recommended, in March 2005, its integration and even the attribution of a distinctive award, a recommendation which has been followed positively by the bureau of the Steering Committee of Culture a few weeks later.

This award will be officially presented on the 16th June 2006 at Cluny, but it has already been announced to the members on the 15th of October last during the Autumn meeting of the federation at Sankt Ulrich and Sölden in Baden-Württemberg.

The representatives of the Federation made the most of this meeting to invite Françoise Tondre, representatives of the cultural routes in the Council of Europe and Michel Thomas-Penette, Director of the Institute to present to the members the main axes of the Council of Europe’s missions, as well as the final phases of the work which will be carried out with the Institute.

Moreover, the policies for bringing together the Centre for French National Monuments (MOMUM) and ENSAM, research centre for new technology and heritage, who will consolidate tourist and heritage presence and innovation, have been announced.

This meeting has finally been the occasion to present the first booklet of a series of publications – guides on the itineraries: the one dedicated to transjuran Burgundy (4 French sites and 9 Swiss sites) and to highlight the new information letter translated into Italian and German.

The work obviously does not stop there. This was the meaning of the speech by the European Institute of Cultural Routes. One of these challenges is also to be able to tell of a common history with other itineraries, those of Roman art which is in the process of completing its presentation file, and obviously the pilgrims ways and the act of pilgrimage itself to which the Abbots of Cluny paid all of their attention.

Sankt Ulrich
European Institute of Cultural Routes