Mont Saint-Michel is a peak located in the regional natural park of Vosges du Nord, in the municipality of Saint-Jean-Saverne, France.
Rising 438 meters above sea level, it has been a site of human habitation since at least the Iron Age,
The mountain and its surroundings hold a wealth of artifacts that bear witness to an ancient settlement. Notably, there is a Celtic oppidum known as “Heidenstadt” (Heathen Town), of which only two 400-meter long ramparts still exist today. The remnants also speak to the former significance of this hill as a prehistoric place of worship.
Saint Michael’s Chapel
The dedication of this location to the Archangel Michael is apparent not only in the mountain’s name but also in the presence of the Saint-Michel pilgrimage chapel, which was constructed on the plateau of the mountain during the 16th century. Records from the 14th century already make mention of a chapel in this location, yet unfortunately, there is no information available regarding its physical appearance or historical background.
Places dedicated to the Archangel possess a unique and powerful energy. In artistic depictions, Michael is often portrayed as a fearless dragon slayer, wielding a lance to defeat the monstrous creature. Symbolically, this represents the celestial forces intersecting with the earthly realm.
These sacred sites serve as a convergence point where heavenly and terrestrial energy lines intertwine and harmonize. The spear of Michael symbolizes the radiant rays of the sun, piercing through the earthly dragon.
Perched atop a sandstone plateau, the chapel’s foundation gives the impression of colossal stone slabs seamlessly arranged in a horizontal fashion.
At the northeast corner inside the chapel there is a well or cistern carved vertically into the rock. It is believed that this construction predates the chapel itself, and the latter appears to have been built around something of significance already present in this very spot.
The seemingly natural and colossal foundation slabs take on a new perspective when viewed from this angle. Are they really natural?
Unfortunately, there is no photo of this cistern and the interior of the chapel, because the door was locked.
The Druid Circle
Located within sight of the chapel, at the edge of the plateau, lies a magnificent basin carved directly into the solid rock. With a diameter of 4.70 meters, this enigmatic structure’s origins and purpose remain shrouded in mystery.
However, many experts speculate that it dates back to prehistoric times and is intricately linked to the nearby Celtic oppidum.
According to local legends, this site was believed to have been a gathering spot for druids who offered human sacrifices here. It is also referred to as a meeting place for witches, giving rise to alternative names such as Witch School or Witches’ Dance Place.
Grotte aux Fées (Fairy Grotto)
Next to the church, lies a stone staircase that descends about 11 meters to the base of the plateau. As you follow a narrow path along the rock face, you will come across several remnants of ancient stone workings.
In this case as well, the exact age and purpose remain mostly unknown. However, it can be inferred that the origin is partially rooted in prehistoric times.
At the end of the path lies a mystical cave. It is a natural cavity that was artificially enlarged in the past. Here too, many traces of carving can be seen.
Located at the heart of the grotto, there exists a depression on the gorund resembling a sarcophagus. According to legend, this spot is believed to be the final resting place of Itta, the esteemed witch and wife of the Count of Lützelburg, who is said to have met a tragic fate and been buried alive by her own husband.
However, it is more plausible that this mysterious site served as a revered space in ancient times, a sanctuary for worship of the old gods. The immediate proximity to the Druid Circle, which is only separated by the cave ceiling at the top, further emphasizes this idea.
In the Middle Ages, the cave was a hermitage, although some scholars believe its initial use to be much further in the past. They associate it with the Roman worship of Mithras, the sun god..
However, evidence suggests that the Romans were not the first worshipers at this location. The cave, in conjunction with the Druid Circle and whatever else was present at the spot where the chapel stands today, can be interpreted as one integrated prehistoric sanctuary.
Fontaine aux Enfants (Children’s Fountain)
Like other ancient sanctuaries, a fountain graces this place, nestled not far from the chapel. The origin of its name remains unknown to me.
The Waterfall Rock
About 800 meters from the chapel lies the enigmatic Waterfall Rock. Situated in the heart of the forest, it exudes an aura of mystique. It is not really a waterfall, but in humid weather countless droplets cascade down the rock ceaselessly and collect at the bottom in large puddles.
Ancient Cart Ruts
Just 800 meters further ahead, near the Celtic oppidum, lies an ancient slab road, believed to be of Roman origin. This path ascends the slope with a steep gradient of 23%.
Remarkably, a 64-meter-long section of this road has endured the test of time, showcasing numerous wagon tracks deeply etched into the stone.
It is plausible to surmise that this pathway once already served as an access route for the Celts, leading to their settlement atop the mountain.
In summary, Mont Saint-Michel, located near Saint-Jean-Saverne in Alsace, France, is a place imbued with spiritual mystery and enriched with centuries of history. The vicinity offers further exploration, meriting a return visit and a sequel to this blog post.