The Basilica of Santa Magdalena de Vezelay as well as the village of Vezelay was named by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The village has a population of 600 inhabitants. Vézelay was the meeting point for pilgrims from Northern and Eastern Europe heading for Santiago de Compostela via Lemovicense, one of the four pilgrimage routes running through France. The basilica has been known throughout Europe since the eleventh century because it was said to contain the relics of St. Magdalena. It was also where the second crusade undertaken by St. Bernard of Clairvaux in the twelfth century, started. Later Richard the Lionheart and Philippe Auguste, King of France, set out on the Third Crusade from here. It was also the place that St. Francis of Assisi chose to find the first Franciscan monastery in France. The first thing that strikes the visitor is the alternating white and brown colors, the keys of the arches and above all, the light that floods everything. The simplicity of the nave is definitely not a sign of poverty. The ornamentation and decoration of columns and capitals have a great technique and the result is a balanced, serene and sober basilica. Under the sanctuary lies the crypt where the relics of St. Magdalena rest and which pilgrims came to venerate. This crypt is a space of darkness and has more than likely already existed in Carolingian times.
Perhaps the most beautiful of the Romantic tympanums. It's in the central portico narthex (like a receiver after the main front door). The main theme is the apostles' mission, particularly special in the time of the Crusades, as it proclaimed that the duty of Christians was to spread the gospel. Springing from the hands of Christ, going up to heaven, the rays of the Holy Spirit are cast upon the Apostles who all carry the scriptures. The lintel and compartments around the central group are based on legends such as Ethiopians with pig snouts etc.. In the Archivolt (the arch that frames the tympanum) are the signs of the zodiac and agricultural work for each month of the year. Under the tympanum there is a mullion that does not always have its wooden doors open. You may have to wait for a group of tourists to come with a guide who can open it like we did.