A little history of Hautecombe abbey
A royal necropolis
This is counts of Savoie's necropolis: kings of France had their own in Saint-Denis basilica...
Our story began with the foundation, when monks from Aulps abbey (Haute-Savoie) came and founded a monastery in Cessens: they called it abbey of Hautecombe, the “high valley”.
Saint Bernard visited them, and found they lived a dissolute life, not in accordance with the Cistercian rule! The place was too lively, reluctant to meditation... so he asked them to move on the other side of the lake, in a place called Charaga.
And our monastery became, in 1162, the place where princes and counts of Savoie were buried. Two popes (Célestin IV and Nicolas III) were also buried here...
After the French Revolution, the abbey was sold. Hautecombe was in the turmoil! They transformed the abbot church, in 1800, into... a porcelain factory! The choir especially suffered but they preserved princes' tombs... phew!
In 1824, king of Sardinia Charles-Félix owned all the abbey and put his Italian architect Ernest Melano in charge of the restoration.
Statues and paintings were made by brothers Vacca and Cacciatori. The Austrian Hothgassner created stained-glass windows, brothers Agati made organs.
The building site lasted 20 years (Charles-Félix spent 3 millions of francs)...