The Abbey of Saint-Martin du Canigou (in Catalan: Sant Martí del Canigó), is a monastery of Benedictine monks founded in the 11th century by Guifred II, county of Cerdagne. The consecration rite of the Saint Martin abbey church took place in November 1009.

Located on the western foothills of the Canigou massif, on the heights of the small village of Casteil, in the department of Pyrénées-Orientales in the Occitania region (France, Pyrenees).

Benedictine monks occupied the abbey for the next eight centuries. They led a life completely dedicated to God, according to the teachings of their spiritual father, St. Benedict. One of the monks wrote in a letter in 1779, that there were no more than five of them, all of old age; and food was barely enough to survive. They asked for permission to leave the abbey, and having received it, they left this holy place in 1783.

The abbey was abandoned, confiscated during the French Revolution, and then people used part of the stone for other purposes. The building became ruins after a few decades.

Monsignor Jules de Carsalade du Pont, Bishop of Perpignan-Elne, inspired by the “revival” of Catalan culture in the late 19th century, launched a major restoration project. The goal, much more important than breathing new life into a pile of stones, was to restore the abbey’s spiritual vocation.

When Monsignor Jules de Carsalade du Pont, nicknamed “The Catalan Bishop”, died in December 1932, he had not had enough time to complete the restoration. The restoration continued over the next thirty years. The benedictine monk, Father Bernard de Chabannes put his hand to this project in 1952, leaving his original abbey in Saint Martin de Canigou for almost forty years.

Every year, tens of thousands of people climb the path leading to the abbey. You can stay for a few days in the abbey, sharing the religious life of the brothers.

The abbey has the status of a historical monument.

Saint-Martin du Canigou is located about a third of the way to the top of Canigou mountain, which you can easily reach by car or you can walk 40 minutes from the village of Casteil.

Excursion program: up to 6 adults (group) – escort in 4×4 jeep – 80,00 Euro

One adult round-trip ticket – 15,00 Euro

One child round-trip ticket – 10,00 Euro

Free for children under 4 years.

The Abbey is closed on Mondays from 1 February to 31 may and from 1 October to 31 December.

The nearest city is Vernet-les-Bains.

Distances by car:

From Paris: 9 hr 29 min (902 km) via A71 and A75

From Toulouse: 3 hr 26 min (199 km) via A61

From Andorra: 2 hr 21 min (126 km) via Eix Pirinenc/N-260 and N116

From Barcelona: 3 hr 16 min (208 km) via C-16

From Madrid: 8 hr 10 min (727 km) via A-2

From Monaco: 6 hr 10 min (556 km) via A8

From Moscow: 39 hr (3,476 km) via E30/M1

From Belgrade: 19 hr 18 min (1,854 km) via E70

From Istanbul: 30 hr (2,804 km) via E70

From Bern: 8 hr 42 min (814 km) via A9

See here Pyrenees travel guide

See here France travel guide

See here Spain travel guide

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