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Gordes: one of the most beautiful medieval villages in Provence

This article is also available in: Italian

Gordes (2,134 inhabitants) is a pretty medieval village located on a rock at an altitude of about 370 meters on the southern flank of the Vaucluse mountains, dominating the valley of the Calavon river, and facing the Luberon mountains.

The village, considered one of the most beautiful medieval villages in Provence, is located about 38 km east of Avignon in the Vaucluse department.

Already frequented by the Romans, Gordes was founded in the 11th century as a feudal castle, the following century, just 4 km from the fortified village, the Cistercian Abbey of Sénanque was founded.

The strategic value of the walled village of Gordes continued throughout the Middle Ages and part of the Renaissance, especially in the 16th century during the wars of religion, when the nearby monastery of Sénanque was set on fire by the Waldensians.

The village is very picturesque and is full of historical buildings and monuments, it retains part of the ancient medieval walls with two access gates.

On the top of the hill is the castle, the original nucleus of the village, but with later additions, especially from the Renaissance period, the structure now houses the tourist office and a painting museum dedicated to the Belgian artist Pol Mara.

The main church is dedicated to Saint-Firmin and dates back to the 18th century, while the square bell tower is from the 14th century.

Other prestigious buildings are the Saint-Firmin palace with a beautiful garden and interesting cellar-caves where there are cisterns and oil mills; the Hôtel Pluvinal and the Pluvinal chapel, a small religious building from the 17th century; l’aumônerie Saint-Jacques, a former inn for pilgrims heading to Santiago de Compostela.

In the lower part of the village there is a mill and some ancient chapels, including the “chapelle d’en bas” carved into the rock. In the Hôtel Simiane, an old retirement home, are the town hall of Gordes, the municipal library and an exhibition center, nearby is the chapel of the White Penitents (Chapelle des pénitents Blancs) from the 17th century.

In the municipality of Gordes or in its immediate vicinity there are interesting places to visit, among these the most interesting is undoubtedly the Cistercian Abbey of Sénanque, an ancient abbey founded in 1148, located just 4 km from Gordes, and still inhabited today by a community of Cistercian monks, the abbey church, the cloister, the dormitory, the chapter house, and the kitchen can be visited.

Other places that deserve a stop are the Moulin des Bouillons, an ancient 16th century olive mill and the adjacent Glass Museum (Musée du Verre et du Vitrail); the village of the Bories (village des Bories), 1.5 km from Gordes, is a small village made up of characteristic dry stone buildings similar to Sardinian nuraghes; the small village of Saint-Pantaléon, with a beautiful 12th century Romanesque church and a medieval rock necropolis.

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