Visitors get 3-D tour of Cluny Abbey church

28th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

CLUNY, France, June 28, 2006 (AFP) - Visitors to Cluny Abbey can now get a glimpse of life there 1,000 years ago thanks to a virtual tour of the church, once the biggest in Christendom, which was 90 percent destroyed some two centuries ago.

CLUNY, France, June 28, 2006 (AFP) - Visitors to Cluny Abbey can now get a glimpse of life there 1,000 years ago thanks to a virtual tour of the church, once the biggest in Christendom, which was 90 percent destroyed some two centuries ago.

The 3-D tour is part of a major 20-million EUR (25-million-dollar) restoration project for the Benedictine abbey which in 2010 will celebrate its 1,100 birthday.

"People come here today to visit a ruined church and it is obviously out of the question that it should be rebuilt," said Jean-Paul Ciret, head of cultural development at France's national monuments body, Monum.

"So in order to make the monument more intelligible to people and to see what no longer exists we have turned to new technology."

Founded in 910, the church in central-eastern France was a major place of pilgrimage with the monastery becoming the most influential and prestigious in Europe from the 10th to 12th centuries.

Its third church founded in the 12th century and measuring some 187 metres long (617 feet) was the largest in Christendom until building began on the new St Peter's Basilica in Rome in the 16th century.

But after its long glorious history the site was partially destroyed during the French Revolution, and then sold and used as a quarry until 1823. Today only part of the southern transept still exists.

Now on a large six-metre wide screen, a nine-minute high-definition 3-D film gives visitors equipped with special glasses a tour of the church as if they were taking part in daily prayers there.

It has taken a team of 10 researchers a year to design the virtual tour thanks to a partnership with France's national school of arts.

The aim was to "restore some of the architectural elements which have disappeared. It's a mixture of the real and the virtual," said young engineer Thomas Mueller.

Ciret added that the restoration had been extensively researched with the help of archaeologists and historians. In the future it is hoped the system can be developed to allow visitors to carry mini screens with them as they tour the site.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French News

 

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