Grottes de Jonas

La Forteresse de Jonas - Site Troglodytique de Jonas

Useful Information

Location: 63610 Lompras.
Saint Pierre Colamine, near Besse.
(45.540147, 2.991684)
Open: 04-FEB to 05-MAR daily 10-17:30.
06-MAR to 02-APR Sat, Sun 10-17:30.
08-APR to 05-NOV daily 10-17:30.
11-NOV to 12-NOV daily 10-17:30.
16-DEC to 31-DEC daily 10-17:30.
Fee: Adults EUR 8, Children (7-15) EUR 6, Children (0-6) free.
Groups: Adults EUR 7, Children (7-15) EUR 5.50.
With guided tour: Adults EUR 10.50, Children (7-15) EUR 7.50, Children (0-6) free.
Groups: Adults EUR 9.50, Children (7-15) EUR 7.
Classification: SubterraneaCave House
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: self guides, D=1 h, St=500.
Medieval tour: D=90 min, St=500.
Accessibility: no
Address: Site Troglodytes de Jonas, 63610 Lompras, Tel: +33-473-56-16-42. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


400 BC fortified celtic village.
10th century monastery created.
11th century abandoned by the monks, inhabited by knights.
1316 site mentioned as castrum seu repayrium (fortified place of less importance).
17th century abandoned.
1706 one corner of the chapel collapsed.


The Grottes de Jonas (Caves of Jonah) are a multilevel system of cave dwellings cut into the volcanic tuff cliff face. The cave were condtructed at the end of the 10th century, according to legend by Patrick Saletta and his Cenobites. The existence of a chapel make it likely that this structur was originally intended as a monastery. The reasons to build caves are simple, cutting caves in soft rock is less work than building houses, and the caves were warm in winter, cool in summer, and needed very little maintenance. But it seems the monastery has been abandoned during the 11th century.

Following the monks, the caves were now inhabited by knights from the nearby castle. They improved the caves by adding a facade with an tower, and thus transforming the monastery into a fortification. They also built a second chapel on top of the old one. This site was abandoned during the 17th century and fell in disrepair. Only the chapel was used until the revolution.

The chapel was cut completely out of the rock modelling the altar and the pillars, the arches and the ceiling. The walls are decorated with magnificent medieval frescoes. The most impressive scenes are the denial of Peter, Jesus receiving the crown of thorns, the body of Jesus is lowered from the cross, the discovery of the empty tomb, and finally the Virgin Mary enthroned with the child Jesus on her lap. The walls were covered by white lime as background, the frescoes were painted using only very few colours, red and yellow ochre, red iron oxide and black coal. One corner of the chapel collapsed in 1706.