I came across this picture of Mont Saint-Michel on Dark Roasted Blend, an interesting blog that I see a lot of posts show up on digg. The first picture didn’t seem like it was real but there were many more pictures of it.
Mont Saint-Michel is a small rocky tidal island in Normandy, roughly one kilometre from the north coast of France at the mouth of the Couesnon River near Avranches. Its name comes from a small island, a granitic outgrowth approaching 960 meters in circumference that reaches 92 meters above the sea, dedicated to Michael archangel. The extraordinary architecture of the Mont Saint-Michel and its bay make it the most visited place of interest in Normandy and the third in France (after the Eiffel tower and the castle of Versailles), with some 3 200 000 visitors each year. Classified as a historic building in 1874, the site has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. The church is crowned by a gold leaf statue of St. Michael by Emmanuel Frémiet, reaching a height of 155 metres (510 feet) above the sea.
A natural land bridge connected the island from the mainland. This made the island only accessible during low tide, giving it a mystical quality. After the French Revolution, it was used to jail political prisoners. The prison was short-lived as it was closed as a prison and declared a national monument in 1874. Victor Hugo, one of my favorite authors that wrote Les Miserables, was one of proponents of turning the island into a monument while it was a prison. He described the fast and unpredictable tides as moving “as swiftly as a galloping horse.” The tides around the island moves a meter per second.
I was surprised that I didn’t know about Mont Saint-Michel because it is the third most visited place in France behind the Eiffel Tower and the castle of Versaille. I guess it’s more popular than the Louvre according to wikipedia. It seems to be a very popular among Europeans. It’s also no surprise that it was the inspiration for Minas Tirith in The Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King.