Art & Architecture

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Notre-Dame de Belvezet chapel and the village of Saint-André

La chapelle Belvezet et les ruines du bourg

Fort Saint-André is more than just walls and towers. Within the walls are an abbey, a village and a chapel.

Notre-Dame de Belvezet chapel

A place of prayer

"Belvezet" or "beautiful view": this chapel takes its name from its location on a rocky outcrop, from where it dominates the village dwellings. Built in the middle of the 12th century, it served as a parish church for the inhabitants of the village until 1293, when the church of Saint-Pons was built in the "Ville neuve" (new town), created by King Philippe le Bel. It would continue to serve the fort's garrison.

This chapel is typical of Romanesque art: the barrel vault of the nave ends in a semicircular apse serving as the choir. The tribune was added later, certainly to accommodate more worshippers.

The position of the altar, very close to the apse wall, is a vestige of the era when the priest officiated with his back to the congregation.

Inside the chapel, there are several traces of paintings: opposite the entrance, a 14th-century fresco depicts Christ crucified between the Virgin Mary and Saint John; in the apse, fragments of a frieze with figures, probably Romanesque, can be seen.

The chapel's walls also feature another peculiarity: stain marks! These are the imprints engraved by the stonemasons to identify their work and thus be fairly remunerated for it.

La chapelle Notre-Dame de Belvezet
La chapelle Notre-Dame de Belvezet


The village of Saint-André

A place to live

In the Middle Ages, villages were often built inside fortified walls, and Fort Saint-André was no exception. Here, the village even existed before the fortress was built, due to the presence of the Saint-André abbey on the hill.

The village is made up of a series of small houses built close together. The inhabitants are mainly craftsmen. As the population grew, the village could no longer accommodate its inhabitants, and a lower town was built at the foot of the Philippe le Bel tower, the only access to the bridge linking Avignon and Villeneuve. The village remained occupied until the 19th century, but in deplorable conditions, with many of the dwellings in very poor condition. The last inhabitants left the village in 1920.

Two houses remain in the ruined village: the Renaissance house and the Belvezet house, still inhabited.

Les ruines du bourg
Les ruines du bourg

© Romain Veillon / CMN

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