Shortly after its foundation in the 9th century, the Benedictine monastery of Vézelay, set on a hill overlooking a vast landscape, acquired the relics of Saint Mary Magdalene and became an important pilgrimage site. It was here that Saint Bernard preached in favour of the second crusade (1146). Richard the Lion Heart and Philippe-Augustus met here before leaving for the third crusade (1190). The Abbey of Saint Magdalene, a 12th-century monastic church, is a masterpiece of Burgundian Romanesque art on account of its architecture and its ornately sculptured capitals and portal.
Criterion (i): The basilica church of Vézelay (known as la Madeleine de Vézelay) is a masterpiece of Burgundian Romanesque art. The central nave (1120-1140) is characterized by the rhythmic pattern of striped arches of its vault, and by a series of capitals which are unique in their style and variety of subjects. But the most remarkable feature of the church is the richly sculptured portal between the nave and the narthex; the breadth and complexity of the narrative and the free inspiration of the sculptor make it one of the most outstanding monuments of western Romanesque art.
Criterion (vi): In the 12th century, the hill of Vézelay became the focus of a surge in Mediaeval Christian spirituality, leading to the emergence of diverse and specific events, ranging from prayer and chansons de geste (epic poems) to the Crusades.