Rennes-le-Château – Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code

Here’s a little photo gallery of Rennes-le-Château in Languedoc region in southern France, and his incredible atmosphere full of mystery and history.

This small village is internationally known following the publication of a series of books dealing with a mystery concerning a nineteenth century priest who lived in the village and, of course, for being at the center of Dan Brown’s world bestseller The Da Vinci Code.

The region of Rennes-le-Château is known for beautiful scenery, but also for his very interesting history. The Languedoc were central to the battle between the Catholic church and the Cathar heretics at the beginning of the 13th century.

RennesLesChateau 21The modern reputation of Rennes-le-Château rises mainly from claims and stories concerning the local 19th-century Abbe Saunière, that had become rich by finding a royal treasure inside one of the pillars in his church in the late 19th century.

These stories influenced the authors of the book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail in 80’s, and that work in turn influenced Dan Brown when he wrote the worldwide bestseller The Da Vinci Code.

The stories told about Rennes-le-Château and Bérenger Saunière consist of many theories, revolving around all matters of conspiracies involving the the Merovingians, the Knights Templar, the Cathars, and later, the Priory of Sion, the Holy Grail, Mary Magdalene, and the remains of Jesus Christ.

The village church dedicated to Saint Mary Magdalene, having been rebuilt several times until the 19th century, and was almost in ruins when Saunière arrived in Rennes-le-Château.The pillar

According to legend, by moving a heavy stone that served as the altar, Saunière found that one stone  (still preserved in the museum of the village) supporting the slab was hollow and contained four parchments.

Two of them detailed a genealogy, while the other two presented enigmatic writings that, once deciphered by experts in Paris, allowed Saunière to obtain some very strange messages.

Latin inscription Terribilis est locus iste above church entranceOne of the new features of the church after the Saunière rebuilt was the Latin inscription Terribilis est locus iste above the front doors, taken from the Common Dedication of a Church, which can be translated as: “This is a place of fear and amazement”.

Another feature Inside the church, is a devil holding up the holy water stoup, a rare, though not unheard of addition found in French churches in this particular style.

Abbé Bérenger Saunière also funded the construction of another structure dedicated to Mary Magdalene.Grave of Bérenger Saunière Named after his church, he built a nearby tower which he used as his library. The tower has a promenade linking it to the Villa Bethanie.

To this day, the secret of Saunière’s fortune remains a mystery. Many theories as to where he got the money have been developed, but none substantiated. We may never know the real story of Saunière and his fortune, the truth of which he most likely took to his grave when he passed away on 22 January 1917.


Gear: Canon Eos 40D, Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM and Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II