The Cistercian abbey Citeaux

The Abbey of Cîteaux is still and remains a working abbey.

The abbey was built on the territory of Saint-Nicolas-lès-Cîteaux near Nuits Saint Georges, this is still a functioning abbey, a place dedicated to prayer and worship. The lands of the abbey were given by the Duke of Burgundy Eudes I to Robert de Molesme who started the foundation of the abbey in 1098.

Almost a century later, in 1193 the construction was finished. Since its beginning and for almost seven centuries, the abbey was occupied by Cistercians until the turmoils of the French Revolution. In 1791, the abbey became the property of the Boullongne family who managed to grow stronger and wealthier during the revolution. The abbey was turned into a castle but the children never managed to agree on inheritance rights and the shares of the property.

After many trials and also fate the youngest daughter, Herminie de Boulogne becomes the sole owner of the abbey. However, in 1841 she sought to sell it. The British Arthur Young bought the abbey and dreamt of turning it into a school but after several years, Young had to put an end to his dream and give up. In 1846, the abbey returned to the religious hands of Father Joseph Rey of the order of the Brothers of Saint-Joseph. Rey worked with the government to turn to make the abbey a penitentiary for the youth. It welcomed errant children, young thieves and other destitute and criminal children who worked there.

At its apogee, more than 800 young people were living at the abbey. However, the fate of the abbey was also in the hands of France's political events and during the 3rd Republic, anti-clerical ideas were at their height in France and the abbey closed before being state property. Ten years later, the abbey was bought by a lady named Marie de Rochefort who wanted to restore the Cistercian order within the abbey's walls. It became the home of the Cistercian of the Strict Observance ( or Trappists ) who still live here today.

One of the most intriguing buildings of the abbey is the crypt, where hundreds of important persons of the Burgundian Duchy. Some sixty members of the House of Burgundy found their resting place in Cîteaux however, most of the tombs were sacked and destroyed during the Revolution. The tomb of Philippe Pot, lord of Thorey-sur-Ouche, diplomat and Knight of the Golden Fleece survived for the five centuries since his death and has been brought to the Louvre Museum in Paris.

The abbey must be on your list of places to visit when you are in Burgundy and don't forget to buy some cheese.

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