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Vézelay Abbey
Coat of arms of Vézelay
Coat of arms
Vézelay is located in France
Coordinates: 47°28′00″N 3°44′48″E / 47.4667°N 3.7467°E / 47.4667; 3.7467Coordinates: 47°28′00″N 3°44′48″E / 47.4667°N 3.7467°E / 47.4667; 3.7467
Country France
Region Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
Department Yonne
Arrondissement Avallon
Canton Vézelay
 • Mayor (2001–2008) Simone Galtier
Area1 21.83 km2 (8.43 sq mi)
Population (2006)2 486
 • Density 22/km2 (58/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
INSEE/Postal code 89446 /89450
Elevation 170–339 m (558–1,112 ft)
(avg. 302 m or 991 ft)

1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Vézelay (French: [vezlɛ]) is a commune in the Yonne department in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté in north-central France. It is a defendable hill town famous for Vézelay Abbey. The town and the famous 11th century Romanesque Basilica of St Magdalene are designated UNESCO World Heritage sites.


Vézelay Abbey

Vézelay's hilltop location has made it an obvious site for a town since ancient times. In the 9th century the Benedictines were given land to build a monastery during the reign of Charles the Bald.[1] According to legend, not long before the end of the first millennium a monk named Baudillon brought relics (bones) of Mary Magdalene to Vézelay from Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume.

  • In 1058 Pope Stephen IX confirmed the authenticity of the relics, leading to an influx of pilgrims that has continued to this day. Vézelay Abbey was also a major starting point for pilgrims on the Way of St. James to Santiago de Compostela, one of the most important of all medieval pilgrimage centres. This was crucially important in attracting pilgrims and the wealth they brought to the town.
  • Bernard of Clairvaux preached the Second Crusade at Vézelay in 1146.
  • In 1189, the Frankish and English factions of the Third Crusade met at Vézelay before officially departing for the Holy Land.


Bourgogne Vézelay is the local wine appellation. Vineyards descend to the edge of the town and produce a range of mostly white wines, based mainly on the Chardonnay, Pinot noir and Melon de Bourgogne grape varieties. About half of the production is marketed through the Cave Henry co-operative. The vineyards are believed[according to whom?] to have been established by the Monastery in the ninth century. In the late nineteenth century the vineyards were decimated by phylloxera. The vineyards were revived during the 1970s.

See also


  1. ^ Jaucourt, Louis, chevalier de. "Vézelay." The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d'Alembert Collaborative Translation Project. Translated by Warren Roby. Ann Arbor: Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan Library, 2007. http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.did2222.0000.765 (accessed April 1, 2015). Originally published as "Vézelay," Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, 17:226–227 (Paris, 1765).

External links

  • Maison du Visiteur, a prelude to visiting the basilica
  • Photographs of some details in the Basilica
  • History plus photo pages showing the famous Tympanum, Zodiac and Capital Sculptures of the Basilique Ste-Madeleine,Vézelay
General view

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