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Notre-Dame du Roc in Castellane city

The chapel “Notre-Dame du Roc” in Castellane honours the Virgin Mary, and is one of the oldest monuments in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department. The rock (184 m high) on which the chapel is built is a natural marvel that has always amazed both tourists and travellers over the centuries. The chapel was built on the remains of a Roman edifice.

Notre-Dame du Roc in Castellane city (France)

View of the church Notre-Dame du Roc from Castellane city

The chapel was invaded by the Saracens in 812. They seized the city of the Salinians (the city of the salt tradesmen, name of Castellane under the Romans), pillaged it and massacred or scattered the population.

The survivors took refuge on the rock. Towards 830, they founded the city of Pétra-Castellana (meaning “rock castle”) and surrounded it with ramparts dominated by a fortified castle. In 835, Boniface from Castellane defeated the Saracens at the Frascinet, near the Grimaud gulf. To celebrate this important victory, the first chapel devoted to the Virgin Mary was built on the rock. It was inaugurated in 852. The chapel was 30 m long and 8 m wide with a half circle chorus. It was destroyed in 1559 during the Wars of Religion. It was rebuilt immediately after that but collapsed again in 1703. For a long time, a community of monks living there guarded the chapel.

After Provence became part of France again, the French king Louis XI, in 1483, ordered to destroy all the fortifications erected on the rock with the exception of the chapel. In spite of all, it got destroyed multiple times but was always rebuilt.

The statue, said to be “Miraculous”, which dominated the side altar, was sent from Malta in 1640 by a pious servant of Mary who wanted to pay tribute to her. The statue was hidden by a congregation and saved from the Revolutionaries who sacked the chapel in 1793.

Everytime the city was threatened by a scourge, the statue was carried in the streets and the faith of the population obtained several times authentic miracles, as testified by two paintings hung on each side of the altar.

In 1876, the older massive statue that dominated the chapel was removed and carried to the south end of the plateau. The steeple was then heightened and a new and more beautiful statue was placed on the top with this inscription: “I am placed here to protect the city”. With the plinth, the statue is 6,05 m high and weighs more than 20 tonnes.

Every year, several pilgrimages bring tourists and people from Castellane to visit Notre-Dame du Roc: the Monday of Easter, and on the feast of Castellane, on the evening of 14th August when people climb the trail with flaming torches.

If you are around Castellane, you must visit Notre-Dame du Roc church! The landscape is beautiful !

Notre-Dame du Roc in Castellane city (France)

Throughout the trail leading to Notre-Dame du Roc church, you will see many oratories like this one. Each oratory represents a scene of Jesus’ life.

Notre-Dame du Roc in Castellane city (France)

View around the church

Notre-Dame du Roc in Castellane city (France)

It takes about 30 minutes to reach Notre-Dame du Roc church.

Notre-Dame du Roc in Castellane city (France)

It was 40 deg. C when I went there…I had the feeling that the trail was endless, especially because I was roasting in the sun !

Notre-Dame du Roc in Castellane city (France)

A beautiful stained-glass window inside the church.

View from Notre-Dame du Roc church:

Inside the church:

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