The sculpture cellar a unique place in the West
If there is an unusual place, it is this one...
This huge cellar is an enigma, unique in the West!
Several hundred characters, faces, sculpted in volume in the tufa... A crazy saraband of demonic and angelic figures. A bacchanal of bodies adorned with sumptuous or naked costumes... No concern for proportions, for this truculent frieze.
If some groups, some scenes, remain totally incomprehensible, we sometimes spot, in this kind of comic strip of the history of France, some known characters like Catherine de Médicis, or Diane de Poitiers, for example. By the way, the mysterious sculptors did not hesitate to go as far as the "scoop" worthy of what we would call today "the people's press". Thus, Catherine de Médicis is represented in her court clothes, while the king's mistress, behind her, is represented "topless"!
But it is not clear whether it is a question of presenting contemporary scenes of unknown sculptors, or whether it is a question of representing old stories that have been peddled. In short, we don't know if all this dates back to the 15th century, the 16th century, or even the 17th century... there are sculptures, but we know nothing about sculptors!
The cellar with sculptures, discovered, buried, rediscovered, buried again...
The cellar had already been discovered twice, most probably on the occasion of collapses in 1663 and 1740, but as these uncovered naked bodies and grimaceous figures were immediately considered diabolical, the priests of the time may have thought that it was a place of pagan worship. Anyway, they rushed to bury it all!
The site was rediscovered in 1956 and then classified as an additional inventory of Historic Monuments.
A difficult rebirth, for the cellar with sculptures....
The municipality has devoted significant sums of money to the development of the site intended to make it accessible to the public, starting in 1977. On the other hand, the fact that it was once again open and visited favoured the appearance of mushrooms, mosses, saltpetre... To fight against these phenomena, and to contribute to making this place a very educational site for the population, the "cave aux sculptures" received support from the Bern mission.
La cave aux sculptures
7, rue de la Caverne
Tél. : 02 41 59 15 40 (site)
Tel. : 02 41 59 21 62 (mairie)
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