The church of Saint-Benigne de Dijon retains in its crypt one of the oldest Christian sanctuaries still to be seen in France. The rebuilding by William of Volpiano began on 14 February 1001 and his church was consecrated fifteen years later. The most outstanding parts of his building was the great rotunda to the east of the apse. It was destroyed by the Revolution and much of the rubble was used to fill in the lowest storey, which was the crypt. In 1843 this crypt was rediscovered and reinstated. Fortunately the two upper storeys had been described and engraved in 1739 by the historian of Burgundy, Dom Plancher. The building can be reconstructed in the imagination.
The crypt preserves its original lay-out -an inner circle ringed round by an arcade of eight columns and surrounded by another ring of sixteen columns, with a circular ambulatory outside this. To the east the ambulatory opens into a small rectangular chapel in which the relics of Saint-Benigne, the apostle of Burgundy, were venerated. The ambulatories were repeated at ground-floor and first-floor levels, but the inner ring formed an open well which rose through all three storeys into the cupola from which the building was largely lit. The present vaulting of the centre of the crypt is therefore not original.
Saint-Benigne de Dijon has been rebuilt in the Gothic style in 1272 and has nothing today to teach us of the architecture of the eleventh century.

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