Saint Michel Basilica
UNESCO Heritage List
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Saint Michel Basilica of Bordeaux with its UNESCO listed, free standing bell tower was built between the middle of the 15th century - during the reign and at the order of King Louis XI - and the beginning of the 16th century in a flamboyant gothic architectural style.
The constuction was initially entusted to architect Jehan Lebas who started church's building in 1462. The bell tower was built between 1472 and 1492. It is 114.6 meter tall , the tallest church bell tower in Aquitaine and the second tallest in France, second only to the bell tower of the Strasbourg Cathedral. It is known under the name "La flèche Saint Michel" (Saint Michel Arrow!) and has 22 bells .
The basilica was (and is!) situated on the Via Turonensis - the Saint Jacques de Compostelle road that passes through Tours.
Between 1791 an 1979 the basilica’s crypt was housing 74 mummies. These well conserved corpses were found when the cemetery around the church was removed to a different location. The mommies were placed inside the crypt in a ... circle!
The writer Victor Hugo writes about seeing this strange sighting: "I looked with a kind of vertigo that circle around me, motionless and convulsive in the same time [...] The scary faces, the crowd of heads sinister or terrible ».
The mommies were removed to a more respectful place in 1979.