Ch_tel_Montagne_1aaLimagne bourbonnaise is bordered by a mountain in the east where, on the broken edge of the mounts of the Madeleine, on the slopes of Besbre, is essential a Romance monument particular good: the church of Châtel-mountain. It is a granite building rough which associate the traditions auvergnates and those of Cluny.

Ch_tel_Montagne_2aExisting already at a moved back time as testify some to cut flints and the shards of pottery, this place became probably a Gallic oppidum, before being occupied by the Romans, protecting one from the antique sees which connects Vichy to Roanne while passing by the Cross of the South.

Ch_tel_Montagne_6_abIt was discovered, at the time of a recent restoration of the pavement, a dolmenic table under the chorus of the current church, proof that this sanctuary was built on an old site megalithic.

Ch_tel_Montagne_4bIn 1082, the Dalmas lord and his Etiennette wife give to the monks of Cluny all the goods which they have with Châtel-Mountain of which the Notre-Dame church, church built in the honor of the Virgin Mary and dependent on the diocese of Cluny. According to a local oral tradition, it would have been built on the initiative of a living rich person, named Ponthonnier. The pope Urbain It authenticates this donation in 1095. Named “castrum in montanis”, it is the seat of one of most important the baronnies of Bourbonnais.

Ch_tel_Montagne_5_abThe construction of the church in its current volume, by enlarging of the primitive church, with a cloister and a priory on the ground in the north of the church, is thus the work of the monks clunisiens, between 1082, date on which they received the church in gift, and the beginning of XIIème century, about 1210, period from which the Gothic style was essential.  The archaeological study reconstituted that it was lower 4 meters, that it extended until the medium from the current southern gate and had a traditional plan for the time, with a transept prolonged by the three apses, one median and two side narrower.

Ch_tel_Montagne_43abOf this church the low parts of the nave and the transept as well as the entry of the three apses were preserved.

Then in 1150, the nave is lengthened, like elevated of almost four meters by the creation of the false platforms, thus allowing the boring of the high windows which ensure a direct lighting.

After this period was createdCh_tel_Montagne_7_abthe Western solid mass being pressed on the frontage which has been just built and whose window must be stopped. The western frontage on two plans, with its three lines of niches superimposed is then carried out.

Ch_tel_Montagne_135aAt the beginning of XIIème century, primitive chorus, only a very short section of the right part of the two side chapels is preserved, ensuring the junction of the new chorus with the primitive transept still not altered.

Ch_tel_Montagne_101aTwo large round columns mark separation between the right part of the chorus and the apse and facilitate racordement new vaults with what has preserved being.

Ch_tel_Montagne__159aThe voutes of the transept are raised, unifying volumes. The tower of the bell-tower, in two stages, is set up, probably surmounted by a covered stone arrow. Construction is completed with the creation of a porch to the front of the southern side door.

To the beginning of XIIIème century, time when the large church was completed under its current aspects, the seigniory belongs to the powerful family of Montmorillon, then at the end of XIIIème century, the marquis de Lapalisse.

Ch_tel_Montagne_10abDuring the revolution, the local demonstrations of the Jacobinism are extreme, the village is renamed “Mount-on-Besbre”, the stone arrow of 13 meters of the church is cut down as emblem of the superstition and all the destroyed files. In 1794, the building is put on sale and becomes a salpetre warehouse, kept by the national guards, which saves it demolition.

Ch_tel_Montagne_18The absence of modification at the time Gothic or to the rebirth, and a restoration supplements between 1850 and 1890, which erased the late modifications and additions, preserved overall at the church Notre-Dame de Châtel Montagne and in particular at the Romance bedside with déambulatoire an aspect close to its aspect such as at the beginning of XIIIème century.

Ch_tel_Montagne_122aThe church of Châtel-Mountain carries in its construction the print of various influences: raise of an influence auvergnate, the details of the bedside of the church (of which the general form is common in XIème century), as well as the false platforms of the nave, used in a small number of buildings divided into Romance Europe and who are frequent in the transepts of the “large” Romance churches of Auvergne the four radiating chapels, (There is no axial vault dedicated to the virgin in the churches bearing its name), the diagrid running along the déambulatoire and supporting the pillars, two pillars twinned at the entry of the déambulatoire.

Ch_tel_Montagne_11abAre of Burgundian influence, the whole of the nave (other than the false platforms), the sober decoration limited to the bands lombardes and the opening of the porch on outside with rez of roadway, the openings gathered by three, the square pillars of the false platforms, the bell-tower made up of a base and two stages of which a blind man, decorated with geminated bays and with the angles deadened by rolls, the sober decoration limited to the cords of bilettes, the original frontage: batie on two plans with its openings bored at the bottom of six niches divided into two stages, it probably influenced the construction of the cathedral of Puy.

Ch_tel_Montagne_48aThe church comprises nearly 90 capitals, almost all cut in a very hard granite, which is not without consequence on the lack of smoothness of the sculptures and which made them with lay treat the “coarse ones”.

Several capitals were mutilated with the revolution or by the puritan zeal of the XIXème century, some were replaced by capitals with vegetable reasons at the time of the restorations.


The tritons are there to indicate to us the aquiferous networks, the acrobats to show us the way of the initiate.


Ch_tel_Montagne__162aThe 9 historiés capitals most known are located in the nave: the ass, drawn by an ear, retained by the tail, the lust, with the thighs hammered by the censure of a town council about 1835, it orant blessing the assembly, the telamon with frog head, the players of horn.
Part of the capitals appears former to the beginning of XIIème century and would be of re-employment.


Ch_tel_Montagne_66aDimensions of the building: Overall length with the porch: 41,35 meters, total width of the 3 naves: 11,45 meters, height of the principal vault: 12,60 meters.