Visiting Rocamadour in Gascony

If you are a sightseeing tourist visiting Gascony, with a fixed itinerary and are looking for buildings full of stylish architecture, you may be a little disappointed, at first, when you visit Rocamadour, in Gascony. Nevertheless, this holy pilgrimage place is peerless for all those people who are looking to visit the sacred chapels of Rocamadour, including the image of the black Virgin. With an amazing number of 14th and 15th century houses right in front of you and which are in a really good condition of preservation you begin your journey from the Porte de Figuier to the place De la Carreta, which is going to take you to the Enceinte Sacree, the main religious attraction of Rocamadour.

Rocamadour in Gascony

Pilgrimage village of Rocamadour in Gascony

I was impressed by the fact that a number of pilgrims climbed up the 141+75 steps on their knees. But they “are a better man than I. Gunga Din” any time. This is in keeping with the medieval tradition of “penitents” doing the same. Naturally, you need to look at the stylish palaces of the Bishops and admire its architecture till you reach the Place St. Amadour.

This is where you can see seven chapels grouped together. The most sacred and ancient of these buildings is the St. Sauveur Basilica and the St.Michel Chapel. We have now reached our destination, which is the world famous Black Virgin, installed here in the 12th century. This black wooden image has long been known as a worker of miracles since medieval times. They say that the iron bell hung here – which goes back to the ninth century – rings by itself whenever a miracle is going to occur. No wonder thousands of pilgrims come here every day to pray to her in the sacred chapels of Rocamadour. I do not want to be blasphemous, but this walnut wood carving looked remarkably like an Egyptian carving of the goddess Isis and her son Horus. But I am more interested in the spiritual aspect of this place, than in any controversial cults!

You can also see a fragment of an iron sword embedded here, in a rock. Local mythology says that this sword is nothing less than Durendal, the miraculous sword belonging to Charlemagne’s paladin Roland. It was supposed to have been fashioned by the blacksmith of the gods, Wayland Smith. Others say that an Angel gave this sword to Roland. So how did it get embedded into the rock? The story goes that when Roland was dying, he tried to destroy the sword so that it did not get into the hands of the invaders. But as it was indestructible, he threw the sword away. Part of it is embedded in the rock. Unfortunately, our guide burst our romantic bubble by telling us that this iron piece is definitely an iron replica of this mythological sword which was placed here in the medieval ages, by the monks. So now that you have stopped yelling “spoilsport “at me, put a “visit our Lady of Rocamadour” on your things to do in France itinerary, right now. It is worth it!

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