Monasteries in Germany

Frauenzell Abbey

Frauenzell Abbey was a house of the Benedictine Order located at Brennberg. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the monastery was founded in 1321 by Reinmar of Brennberg. At first a cell or priory of Oberalteich Abbey, it was granted the status of an abbey in its own right in 1424. It was dissolved in 1803 in the secularisation of the period. Some of the buildings were used for the accommodation of the school and the minister&q ...
Founded: 1321 | Location: Brennberg, Germany

Michelfeld Abbey

Michelfeld Abbey was a Benedictine monastery in Auerbach in der Oberpfalz. The monastery, dedicated to Saint Michael and Saint John the Evangelist, was founded in 1119 by Bishop Otto I of Bamberg. It was dissolved in the Reformation, in 1556. Re-opened temporarily in 1661 and permanently in 1684, it was put under the administration of the Electors of Bavaria on 13 March 1802 and finally dissolved in 1803 in the secularisa ...
Founded: 1119 | Location: Auerbach in der Oberpfalz, Germany

Reichenbach Abbey

Reichenbach Abbey, dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin,was founded in 1118 by Markgraf Diepold III of Vohburg and his mother Luitgard. During the Reformation it was looted, and secularised from 1553 to 1669, when it was re-established. It was dissolved again in 1803 during the secularisation of Bavaria. The abbey's property was confiscated by the state and eventually auctioned off in 1820. After a couple of ...
Founded: 1118 | Location: Reichenbach, Germany

Wechterswinkel Abbey

Wechterswinkel Abbey, dedicated to the Holy Trinity and Saint Margaret, was founded in 1134 or 1135 by Embricho of House of Leiningen, bishop of Würzburg, and King Conrad III of Germany. It was so severely damaged in the wars of the 16th century that it was unable to continue, and was dissolved in 1592 by Julius Echter von Mespelbrunn, the then bishop of Würzburg. The assets realised were invested to endow pari ...
Founded: 1134 | Location: Wechterswinkel, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.