St. Margaret’s Chapel Edinburgh Castle

St. Margaret’s Chapel Edinburgh Castle
La Capilla de Sta. Margarita en el castillo de Edimburgo

St. Margaret’s Chapel

Built on the highest point of Castle Rock, St. Margaret’s Chapel dominates Edinburgh Castle and the city below. This small unassuming Chapel, with an internal width of 3 metres and a 4.8-metre-long nave, is Edinburgh’s oldest building.  

King David I (1124-1153) had the Chapel built in about 1130 and dedicated it to his mother, Queen Margaret. It is a simple rectangular stone construction, with an entrance door near the back of the nave, and a round chancel arch decorated with chevron mouldings. The arch leads to the small apsed sanctuary. The ornate arch and three of the walls are original. The walls are 61 centimetre thick.

St. Margaret’s Chapel is redolent of earlier Celtic Chapels in Scotland and Ireland. However, the style is Romanesque, as evidenced by the round-headed windows and the round arch.

This Chapel is still standing after some brutal historical events. When the Earl of Moray captured Edinburgh Castle from the English in 1314, King Robert the Bruce had it demolished to prevent it falling onto English hands again. However, St. Margaret’s Chapel was spared. Before he died, Robert the Bruce gave orders for the Chapel to be repaired.

The Chapel was virtually forgotten after the Reformation in the 16th century. It was also used to store gunpowder. Restoration work began in the 1850s. The stained-glass windows, which depict Scottish saints, were installed in the 1920s. the Chapel was rededicated in 1934. It is still used for religious services, like baptisms or weddings. The St. Margaret’s Chapel Guild ensures that there are always fresh flowers.

La capilla de Santa Margarita

La capilla de Sta. Margarita domina el paisaje desde el punto más alto del Castillo de Edimburgo. Esta pequeña capilla, de solo 3 metros de ancho interior y una nave de 4,8 metros de largo, es la construcción más antigua de la ciudad.

El rey David I (1124-1153) mandó a construir la capilla en 1130 dedicada la memoria de su madre, la reina Margarita. Es una construcción rectangular de piedra, con una entrada en la parte posterior de la nave y un arco decorado con motivos angulares. El arco separa el ábside de la nave. El arco triunfal y tres de las paredes son originales. Estas tienen un espesor de 61 centimetros.

Si bien la capilla tiene características parecias a capillas celtas de Escocia e Irlanda, su estilo es románico, como lo indican las ventanas redondeadas y el arco triunfal.

La capilla soportó varios eventos históricos violentos. Cuando el conde de Moray recapturó el Castillo de Edimburgo en poder de los ingleses en 1314, el rey Robert the Bruce lo mandó a demolir para evitar que volviera a caer en manos inglesas. Si embargo, ordenó conservar la capilla. Antes de morir, ordenó que fuera restaurada.

La capilla cayó en el abandono luego de la Reforma Protestante del siglo XVI. Incluso, se la utilizó como polvorín. Los trabajos de restauración comenzaron en la década de 1850. Los vitrales con santos escoceses son de la década de 1920. La capilla fue vuelta a consagrar en 1934. Todavía se usa para servicios relgiosos como bautismos o casamientos. La Cofradía de la Capilla de Sta. Margarita se ocupa de que simpre haya flores frescas.

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St. Margaret's Chapel  Edinburgh Castle
La Capilla de Sta. Margarita en la castillo de Edimburgo 
#Edinburg #Castle #Scotland #Escocia #viajar #travel

Who was St. Margaret?

Although born in exiled in Hungary in 1045, Margaret of Wessex was an English princess, sister to Edgar Ætheling, claimant to the throne of England. Her family returned to England when she was ten but had to flee after the Norman invasion of 1066.

Their ship, headed to the Continent, was blown off course and ended up in Scotland. King Malcolm put the family under his protection. He eventually fell in love with and married Margaret in 1070.

Margaret was a devoted catholic. She exerted her influence on her husband, who was not vey religious. Queen Margaret promoted the arts and education, advocated religious reform in Scotland and founded several churches. She fed the poor and nursed the sick.

Pope Innocent IV canonized Margaret in 1250 for her life of holiness and reform of the Church.

Saint Margaret is the patron saint of Scotland and her feast day is 16 November. Incidentally, my mother-in-law’s name was Margaret, and she was Scottish.    

¿Quién fué Sta. Margarita?

Si bien nació en el exilio en Hungría, Margarita de Wessex era una princesa inglesa hermana de Edgar Atheling, pretendiente al trono de Inglaterra. Su familia volvió cuando ella tenía diez años, pero debieron escapar de los invasores normandos en 1066.

Su barco se dirigía al continente, pero una tormenta lo desvió a las costas escocesas. El rey Malcolm los puso bajo su protección. Con el tiempo, se enamoró y casó con Margarita en 1070.

Margarita era muy devota y su influencia suavizó el carácter y las decisiones de su marido. Promovió las artes y la educación, abogó por la reforma religiosa en Escocia y fundó varias iglesias. Hizo también muchas obras de caridad.

El papa Inoncencio IV canonizó a Margarita de Escocia en 1250 por sus obras de caridad y la reforma de la iglesia.

Sta. Margarita es la patrona de Escocia y su santo se celebra el 16 de noviembre. Mi suegra era escocesa y se llamaba justamente Margaret.

St. Margaret's Chapel  Edinburgh Castle
La Capilla de Sta. Margarita en la castillo de Edimburgo 
#Edinburg #Castle #Scotland #Escocia #viajar #travel

Edinburgh Castle

The igneous rock intrusion known as Castle Rock that looks over Edinburgh has always played a defensive role, from a fortress in Roman times to royal residence in the Middle Ages. King David I built some of the remarkable buildings in 1130 that are still standing.

The English captured and destroyed the castle a few times, but the Scots always reclaimed and rebuilt it. The castle was the scene of sieges and battles. As a royal residence, it is where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to her son James IV of Scotland and later, James I of England. The castle withstood the Jacobite rebellions in the 18th century.

Nowadays, Edinburgh Castle serves as a military station, is home to the Scottish National War Memorial and of the Crown Jewels (the Honours of Scotland). The Stone of Destiny, also known as the Stone of Scone, where Scottish kings were crowned, has been on display since 1996, when it was returned from Westminster Abbey. I have been immensely lucky to have seen the Stone in both places.

Edinburgh Castle is part of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

El Castillo de Edimburgo

La formación de roca ígnea conocida como Castle Rock que ese eleva sobre Edimgburgo siempre cumplió un papel defensivo, tanto como fortaleza romana o residencia real medieval. El rey David I construyó en 1130 algunos de los edificios majestuosos todavía en pie.

Las fuerzas inglesas capturaron y destruyeron el castillo varias veces pero los escoceses siempre lo recuperaron y lo arreglaron. El castillo fue escena no solo de batallas sino de asedios. Como residencia real, fue donde la reina María Estuardo dio a luz a su hijo Jacobo IV de Escocia y I de Inglaterra. Tambié soportó las rebeliones jacobitas del siglo XVIII.

Hoy en día, el Castillo de Edimburgo cumple funciones militares, alberga el Monumento Nacional de Guerra y las joyas de la Corona, u Honores de Escocia y la Piedra del Destino (Stone of Scone), donde eran coronados los monarcas escoceses. La Piedra del Destino estuvo en la Abadía de Westminster hasta 1996, cuando fue devuelta a donde pertenece. Tuve la gran suerte de verla en ambos lugares.

El Castillo de Edimburgo forma parte del grupo Old and New Towns of Edinburgh, declarado Patrimonio Histórico de la Humanidad por la UNESCO.

St. Margaret's Chapel  Edinburgh Castle
La Capilla de Sta. Margarita en la castillo de Edimburgo 
#Edinburg #Castle #Scotland #Escocia #viajar #travel

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St. Margaret's Chapel  Edinburgh Castle
La Capilla de Sta. Margarita en la castillo de Edimburgo 
#Edinburg #Castle #Scotland #Escocia #viajar #travel

Mont-Saint-Michel, a marvellous monastery built on a tidal island

Mont-Saint-Michel is a spectacular medieval abbey and village perched on a rocky tidal island off the coast on Normandy, France.

I’ve always thought that Mont-Saint-Michel looks like the prow of an ocean liner. It rises proud and majestic in the midst the large sandbanks situated between Normandy and Brittany in France. 

So, what is Mont-Saint-Michel? It’s a medieval abbey surrounded by a fortified town built on a small island. Not only that, Mont-Saint-Michel has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Let’s have a look at this amazing ancient site.

Mont-Saint-Michel is a spectacular medieval abbey and village perched on a rocky tidal island off the coast on Normandy, France.

Mont-Saint-Michel: medieval centre of learning and pilgrimage

Legend has it that the Archangel Michael pressured Aubert, bishop of Avranches, to build a small church dedicated to him, the archangel. The chosen location? The top of a rocky island just off the coast. Bishop Aubert did as he was told and had the church built in the early 8th century (708).

Later, in 966, a group of Benedictine monks  settled on the island with the support of the Duke of Normandy. They built an abbey, also consecrated to St. Michael, in the Romanesque style. The oldest part of the abbey, the small church of Notre-Dame-Sous-Terre, can still be seen and dates back to the 10th century.  Also from the Romanesque period is the nave of the abbey church.

During the Gothic period, the builders made the most of the restricted space available. They built the conventual buildings known as the elegant “Marveille” (the Marvel) above the chaplaincy. The Marveille comprises the Hotes and the Chevaliers rooms, the refectory and the cloisters, which is open to the sea. The views from up there are wonderful.

Mont-Saint-Michel attracted some the greatest minds and illuminators  in Europe. Thus, it became one of the most important centres of learning and pilgrimage of the Middle Ages.

Mont-Saint-Michel is a spectacular medieval abbey and village perched on a rocky tidal island off the coast on Normandy, France.

The  abbey wasn’t impervious to the outside world.The Hundred Years War against England in the 14th century made it necessary to fortify the islands with ramparts in case of an invasion. And the abbey was used as a prison during the French Revolution and the Empire.

Fortunately for us, restoration work began in the late 19th century.

the medieval town

As mentioned before, Mont-Saint-Michel was a popular pilgrimage centre. It was only natural that a village grew at the base of the abbey to cater for the needs of the pilgrims. The town flourished on the south-east side behind the defensive walls from the Hundred Year War.

Nowadays, the medieval village is the first place you see on arriving. Bring your best walking shoes because the narrow cobbled streets wind up to the abbey. All kinds of shops cater for the tourist, you’ll lots of tat for sale. Move on. However, it’s a pretty place for photographs (if you can get away from the crowds).

Mont-Saint-Michel is a spectacular medieval abbey and village perched on a rocky tidal island off the coast on Normandy, France.

There are lodgings, bars and restaurants as well. One of the most famous one is La Mère Poulard, famous for its omelettes. Don’t bother trying to eat there without a reservation. And prepare to be fleeced, things are more expensive on the island.

UNESCO World Heritage Site

The UNESCO declared Mont-Saint-Michel a world heritage site in 1979. They used the following criteria:

Criterion (i): Through the unique combination of the natural site and the architecture, the Mont-Saint-Michel constitutes a unique aesthetic success.

Criterion (iii): Mont-Saint-Michel is an unequalled ensemble, as much because of the co-existence of the abbey and its fortified village within the confined limits of a small island, as for the originality of the placement of the buildings which accord with its unforgettable silhouette.

Criterion (vi): Mont Saint-Michel is one of the most important sites of medieval Christian civilisation.

Can’t really argue with that!

Mont-Saint-Michel is a spectacular medieval abbey and village perched on a rocky tidal island off the coast on Normandy, France.

Visiting Mont-Saint-Michel

Back in the day, you could drive to the island and park very close to the base of the abbey. You had to be mindful of the rides, according to the signs posted everywhere. In spring, the bay is subject to the largest tidal range in continental Europe (almost 25 kilometres from the shore).

But there is a new access now. The visitors car park is approximately 3 kilometres away from the island. Modern shuttle buses and horse-drawn carriages take you from the Visitors Centre at the Place des Navettes to the mount.

Experts suggest staying in a hotel on the  mainland. This is what we did and didn’t regret the decision. It’s easy to drive to and from the Mount and there are more accommodation options.

Early morning or late afternoon are the best times to arrive and walk around the village, especially during peak tourist season. As I mentioned before, be prepared to face large crowds.

Here are the prices to park your car/camper van/coach/motorbike and the price of the shuttle. There’s also a kennel for your dog.

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