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Founded in 1115 and situated in a narrow valley in the south of the Dordogne, the Abbey de Cadouin is classified as a 'monument historique'. For 800 years this Cistercian abbey drew in pilgrims making the journey to view a sacred piece of cloth believed to have been part of the shroud of Christ.
The piece of tissue discovered in a church in Antioche during the first crusade, was brought for safe keeping to the abbey. Then in 1934 a scientific examination of the tissue established that it was in fact material dating only to the eleventh century and not the holy relic it had been thought to be.
The cloisters of the abbey were adorned in the 15th and 16th centuries with richly sculptured columns and a complicated vaulted ceiling. In the north gallery is a magnificent stone throne and there are several examples of flamboyantly decorated 15th century doors and Renaissance 16th century doors. The buildings surrounding the cloisters were restored during the 17th century.
Classed a World Heritage site by UNESCO and a stage on the famous pilgrim route of Saint Jacques de Compostelle the Cistercian Abbey de Cadouin is a major site of religious architecture in the Dordogne.