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The Cluniac Sites in Europe
In 909 or 910, William the Pious, Duke of Aquitaine, founded a Benedictine Abbey in Cluny, in the French region of Burgundy. Not many places can, like Cluny, justifiably claim to have been one of the centres of the world throughout history.
Cluny was a spiritual capital, the reference for a whole era and a great stimulus for social and cultural development in a medieval society searching for deeper meaning. The network of over 1 000 Cluniac sites that the grand abbey created and coordinated in Europe and beyond, independent from any control, was the foreshadowing of a social project that still interrogates today. This extraordinary status allowed Cluny to be built and equipped like the capital cities of our times: its civil and religious buildings are exceptional both in their dimensions and by their beauty.
Its 187m-long abbatial church - the Maior Ecclesia - and its unprecedented volumes remained the largest in Christianity for many centuries. The Cluniac sites bear witness to this extraordinary spiritual, political and social influence. Cluny was at the origin of the emergence or the development of hundreds of urban centres in Europe.
Since the last monks departed in 1791, the multifaceted heritage of this true phenomenon in European civilization has been almost forgotten. By allowing Cluny’s sites to resonate with one another their history becomes intelligible once again.
The presence of Cluny’s heritage can be felt in each and every location. Today, Clunypedia, a platform of Cluniac knowledge, enables the public to discover and make more sense of the heritage and history of Cluny in Europe. New technologies make it possible to rediscover this history with a new vision; to walk round the Cluniac sites is to rediscover one of the central elements of European consciousness.