Fontenay Abbey

Fontenay Abbey

Date begun in 1139

Movement Mature Romanesque

Located at Marmagne, France

 

The Cistercian Order was one of the starkest opponents to the Cluneic Order, criticizing the institution for the massive political and economic influence it touted. Cistercian monks came to be known for their industrious work ethic—in hardly no time, they began to obtain wealth themselves; however, their architectural style remained simple. Here, no apse marks the east end of the church, and no towers were planned. A clerestory and triforium are missing from the interior’s nave. No paintings or sculptural decorations adorn the structure, as the Cistercians did not believe in creating religious imagery; there is a beauty in the church’s simplicity, however—the warm, undecorated stone creates an inviting space, and though it is without a clerestory, the interior receives just the right amount of light form the plain windows in the side aisles and east end.