One of the earliest recognised UNESCO World Heritage Sites, France’s famed Mont Saint-Michel island commune in Normandy stands as one of France’s most recognizable landmarks, not to mention one of its most popular tourist destinations.

Situated about 1 km off the country’s northwestern coast, the tidal island crowned by its great Romanesque abbey supports a small population of around 50 permanent residents, all living within the boundaries of this medieval walled city.

Inaccessible during high tide, this fortified position has been held since Roman times, and in addition to its position as a place of worship since the 11th century,  The Mont as a strategic stronghold stands legendary as having been unconquered during the Hundred Years’ War, not to mention its successful 1433 defense against a full scale English assault.

Of course the reverse of this unconquerable nature wasn’t entirely missed either, with the tidal island also spending a fair bit of its history as prison stronghold for some of the Kings of France.

A team over at Great Big Story put together this great little primer on the fabulous Mont Saint-Michel:

No wonder it is one of France’s most visited tourist attractions.

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