The remains of Cluny's great abbey – Christendom's largest church until the construction of St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican – are fragmentary and scattered, barely discernible among the houses and green spaces of the modern-day town. But with a bit of imagination, it's possible to picture how things looked in the 12th century, when Cluny's Benedictine abbey, renowned for its wealth and power and answerable only to the pope, held sway over 1100 priories and monasteries stretching from Poland to Portugal.
The village of Cluny and the green countryside surrounding it make a pleasant place to linger for a day or two. There are several other worthwhile places to visit nearby. Cormatin, 14km to the north, is home to a lavish Renaissance-style château, while Paray-le-Monial, about 50km to the west of Cluny, makes an interesting side trip for its 11th-century Romanesque basilica.