Thursday, September 30, 2010

La Chartreuse, part 1.

This is the story of a famous old abbey, in the north of France, built in the turn of the 11th century,
where monks and priests lived their silent lives separated from each other, in little mansions
built together, and only meeting for the morning, midday, and late night prayer.
The building, in 1908, was transformed into hospital, where mentally ill or handicapped people
have lived their almost entire lives, up until the place was emptied in 1998, leaving behind diffent a century of stories, lives and souls...
Work began a few years ago, to make a renewal, and to transform the buildings into a cultural and touristic complex.
So this is the story of La Chartreuse...

The complex includes a church, various chapels, a library, over 50 houses, a cemetery, and various buildings that served the monks (and later the hospital) for the self-sufficiency (meaning they did everthing themselves, from making furniture, to grinding the wheat for bread, etc...).
Monks had their own little appartments, which meant, they did not get in contact with each other, and didn`t talk. Days and years would go on in silence.
In the central area, there is a long 4 angle corridor, and a central garden, which also includes the cemetery. Monks used to bury the dead into the ground, without coffins, just the body, into the ground.
The whole complex has a very strange feeling to it, very scary, overwhelming, at the same time.
There aren`t many details that tell that it was a hospital for the mentally ill and handicapped for nearly a century. All of these furnitures have been moved out. But some of the old occupants - from some of them grew up, and lived 50 years here, a whole life nearly, come back to visit, and cheer happily,
and tell stories, of how it was to grow up and live their lives in this distant, old abbey.
Some could even live a love life, or be as a couple - a handicapped couple, in the old houses.
Visitors are only allowed in certain parts, while most of the areas cannot be seen by outsiders,
as it is quite dangerous, due to the ongoing reconstruction works.
Over a millenia of history, lives, belief, prayer, and the silence takes you in.

photographs: Ildiko Peter 2010.


  1. :) koszonom! meg ehhez is jonnek kepek,
    de 3 resz lesz, azaz 3 fele keppen elmondva ugyanaz a helyszin.
    koszonom hogy megnezted.
    hianyzol nagyon.


  2. aucun doute c'est bien le nord pas de calais !