Monasteries in Germany

Comburg Abbey

Comburg was a Benedictine monastery founded in the late 1070s by the Counts of Comburg-Rothenburg on the site of their castle. The first monks were from Brauweiler Abbey, but in the 1080s an abbot from Hirsau Abbey was appointed, and this brought Comburg into the movement of the Hirsau Reforms. The monks of Comburg were exclusively of noble birth, and accordingly resisted the Benedictine reforms of the 15th century, unde ...
Founded: 1070s | Location: Comburg, Germany

Ebrach Abbey

The former Cistercian monastery in Ebrach is a famous and popular destination. Having a wonderful and unique rose window, the Gothic church is one of the region’s great highlights, along with its Baroque monastic buildings. Ebrach was probably the most important front post for the cultural and spiritual development of the regions west for Bamberg and the Steigerwald area. The abbey, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Sa ...
Founded: 1126-1127 | Location: Ebrach, Germany

St. Blaise Abbey

St. Blaise Abbey (Kloster St. Blasien) was a Benedictine monastery. The early history of the abbey is obscure. Its predecessor in the 9th century is supposed to have been a cell of Rheinau Abbey, known as cella alba (the 'white cell'), but the line of development between that and the confirmed existence of St Blaise"s Abbey in the 11th century is unclear. At some point the new foundation would have had to b ...
Founded: 11th/18th century | Location: Sankt Blasien, Germany

Münsterschwarzach Abbey

Münsterschwarzach Abbey, dedicated to the Holy Saviour, the Virgin Mary and Saint Felicity, was founded before 788 as a nunnery. It was a private foundation of the Carolingian ruling house: the abbesses were daughters of the imperial family, for example Theodrada (d. 853), a daughter of Charlemagne. After the death of the last Carolingian abbess, Bertha, in 877, the nuns left the abbey and it was taken over by Benedi ...
Founded: 788 AD | Location: Münsterschwarzach, Germany

Zwiefalten Abbey

Zwiefalten Abbey was a Benedictine monastery founded in 1089 at the time of the Investiture Controversy by Counts Gero and Kuno of Achalm, advised by Bishop Adalbero of Würzburg and Abbot William of Hirsau. The first monks were also from Hirsau Abbey, home of the Hirsau Reforms (under the influence of the Cluniac reforms), which strongly influenced the new foundation. Noker von Zwiefalten was the first abbot and led from ...
Founded: 1089 | Location: Zwiefalten, Germany

Hirsau Abbey

Hirsau Abbey was once one of the most important Benedictine abbeys of Germany. In the 11th and 12th century, the monastery was a centre of the Cluniac Reforms, implemented as 'Hirsau Reforms' in the German lands. The complex was devastated during the War of the Palatine Succession in 1692 and not rebuilt. A Christian chapel at Hirsau dedicated to Saint Nazarius had already been erected in the late 8th century. The monast ...
Founded: 830 AD | Location: Hirsau, Germany

Gladbach Abbey

Gladbach Abbey was a Benedictine abbey founded in 974 by Archbishop Gero of Cologne and the monk Sandrad from Trier. It was named after the Gladbach, a narrow brook that now runs underground. The abbey and its adjoining villages grew into the town of Gladbach, incorporated in the 1360s, the origin of the present city of Mönchengladbach in North Rhine-Westphalia. In 1802 the abbey was occupied by troops under th ...
Founded: 974 AD | Location: Mönchengladbach, Germany

Eldena Abbey Ruins

Eldena Abbey, originally Hilda Abbey, is a former Cistercian monastery. Only ruins survive, which are well known as a frequent subject of Caspar David Friedrich"s paintings. In the 12th century the Baltic coast south of the island of Rügen belonged to the Rani principality of Rügen, which in its turn was subject to the Danes. The Danish Cistercian monastery, Esrum Abbey, was thus able to found a daughter h ...
Founded: 1199-1204 | Location: Greifswald, Germany

Neresheim Abbey

Neresheim Abbey was founded in 1095 as a house of (secular) Augustinian Canons, and converted to a Benedictine monastery in 1106. In the 13th century, the abbey owned seven villages and it had an income from a further 71 places in the area. Ten parish churches were incorporated. During wars and conflicts the monastery was destroyed several times for example during the Thirty Years" War and during Napoleonic Wars of t ...
Founded: 1095 | Location: Neresheim, Germany

Kempten Abbey

The Imperial Abbey of Kempten was an ecclesiastical state of the Holy Roman Empire for centuries until it was annexed to the Electorate of Bavaria in the course of the German mediatization in 1803. Located within the former Duchy of Swabia, the Princely Abbey was the second largest ecclesiastical Imperial State of the Swabian Circle by area, after the Prince-Bishopric of Augsburg. According to the 11th-century chronicles ...
Founded: 752 AD | Location: Kempten (Allgäu), Germany

Cappenberg Castle

Cappenberg Castle is a former Premonstratensian monastery. The Counts of Cappenberg, who were related to the Salians and the Staufers, were a rich and powerful family. During the Investiture Controversy, when they supported Duke Lothar von Supplinburg against Emperor Heinrich V, Count Gottfried von Cappenberg and his brother Otto von Cappenberg led their armies against Münster in February 1121 under the ...
Founded: 1122 | Location: Selm, Germany

St. Michael Abbey Ruins

The Monastery of St. Michael on the Heiligenberg (Saints" Mountain), was a branch of the nearby Lorsch Abbey. The ruined complex that can be seen today was built beginning in 1023. Within the nave are traces of the Roman temple of Mercury. The monastery was abandoned in the 16th century. The first mention of the monastery is in the Lorsch codex, from the 12th century, which dates the founding of the monastery to 870. No ...
Founded: 1023 | Location: Heidelberg, Germany

Bergen auf Rügen Abbey

Bergen auf Rügen Abbey was a monastery for Cistercian nuns. It lasted from the end of the 12th century to the early 16th century as a Roman-Catholic monastery and then, until 1945, as an Evangelical aristocratic nunnery. The Principality of Rügen belonged to the Bishopric of Roskilde since its conquest by the Danes in 1168, Bishop Absalon of Lund being responsible for introducing the territory to Christianity. ...
Founded: 1193 | Location: Bergen auf Rügen, Germany

Burtscheid Abbey

Burtscheid abbey was founded in 997 under Emperor Otto III. The first abbot, Gregor, who came to Burtscheid from Calabria, is sometimes said to have been the brother of Theophanu, Byzantine mother of the Emperor. He was buried beneath the altar after his death in 999, and his date of death, 4 November, was kept as a feast day until the dissolution of the abbey. In 1018 the Emperor Henry II endowed it with the ...
Founded: 997 AD | Location: Burtscheid, Germany

Weingarten Abbey

Weingarten Abbey was founded in 1056 by Welf I, Duke of Bavaria. The name Weingarten (vineyard) is documented from about 1123. He settled it with monks from Altomünster Abbey. In 1126, Henry IX, Duke of Bavaria, withdrew here after his abdication; he died the same year and was buried in the abbey church. The monks worked, among other things, at manuscript illumination. Their most famous work is the Berthold Sacramentary ...
Founded: 1056 | Location: Weingarten, Germany

Mariahilf Monastery

The diocesan town of Passau has long been a centre of religious life in Bavaria and Austria. In 1611, Prince-Bishop Archduke Leopold of Austria brought to Passau, his town of residence, a painting of the Mother of God tenderly embraced by the Child Jesus. The painting was the work of Lucas Cranach the Elder, a leading German painter, and was probably produced after 1537. This outstanding painting was greatly admired by t ...
Founded: 1624 | Location: Passau, Germany

Ochsenhausen Abbey

Ochsenhausen Abbey was a Benedictine monastery was founded according a legend in the 9th century when there was a nunnery here called 'Hohenhusen', which was abandoned at the time of the Hungarian invasions in the early 10th century. A ploughing ox later turned up a chest of valuables buried by the nuns before their flight, and the monastery of Ochsenhausen was founded on that spot. The first Abbey Church of Ochsenhausen ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ochsenhausen, Germany

Steinfeld Abbey

Steinfeld Abbey is a former Premonstratensian monastery, now a Salvatorian convent. The origins of the site go back to about 920. The first monastic settlement at Steinfeld took place in about 1070, and the Premonstratensians settled here in 1130. It became an important monastery in the German Empire, and established a number of daughter houses across Europe, including Strahov Abbey in Prague. It was raised to th ...
Founded: 1070 | Location: Kall, Germany

Brauweiler Abbey

Brauweiler Abbey, a former Benedictine monastery, founded and endowed in 1024 by Pfalzgraf Ezzo, count palatine of Lotharingia of the Ezzonian dynasty and his wife Matilda of Germany, a daughter of Emperor Otto II and Theophano. Ezzo and Matilda were buried here, as were their two eldest sons Liudolf, Count Palatine of Lotharingia (d. 1031) and Otto II, Duke of Swabia (d. 1047). From 1065 until his deat ...
Founded: 1024 | Location: Brauweiler, Germany

Salem Abbey

Salem Abbey was a very prominent Cistercian monastery founded in 1136 by Gunthram of Adelsreute (d. 1138) as a daughter house of Lützel Abbey in Alsace. Blessed Frowin of Bellevaux, formerly the travelling companion and interpreter of Bernard of Clairvaux, became the first abbot of Salem. The abbey soon became very prosperous. Extensive and magnificent buildings, erected in three squares, and a splendid church were cons ...
Founded: 1136 | Location: Salem, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Charlottenburg Palace

Charlottenburg Palace is the largest palace in Berlin and the only surviving royal residence in the city dating back to the time of the Hohenzollern family. The original palace was commissioned by Sophie Charlotte, the wife of Friedrich III, Elector of Brandenburg in what was then the village of Lietzow. Originally named Lietzenburg, the palace was designed by Johann Arnold Nering in baroque style. The inauguration of the palace was celebrated on 11 July 1699, Frederick's 42nd birthday.

Friedrich crowned himself as King Friedrich I in Prussia in 1701 (Friedrich II, known as Frederick the Great, would later achieve the title King of Prussia). Two years previously, he had appointed Johann Friedrich von Eosander (also known as Eosander von Göthe) as the royal architect and sent him to study architectural developments in Italy and France, particularly the Palace of Versailles. On his return in 1702, Eosander began to extend the palace, starting with two side wings to enclose a large courtyard, and the main palace was extended on both sides. Sophie Charlotte died in 1705 and Friedrich named the palace and its estate Charlottenburg in her memory. In the following years, the Orangery was built on the west of the palace and the central area was extended with a large domed tower and a larger vestibule. On top of the dome is a wind vane in the form of a gilded statue representing Fortune designed by Andreas Heidt. The Orangery was originally used to overwinter rare plants. During the summer months, when over 500 orange, citrus and sour orange trees decorated the baroque garden, the Orangery regularly was the gorgeous scene of courtly festivities.

Inside the palace, was a room described as 'the eighth wonder of the world', the Amber Room, a room with its walls surfaced in decorative amber. It was designed by Andreas Schlüter and its construction by the Danish amber craftsman Gottfried Wolfram started in 1701. Friedrich Wilhelm I gave the Amber Room to Tsar Peter the Great as a present in 1716.

When Friedrich I died in 1713, he was succeeded by his son, Friedrich Wilhelm I whose building plans were less ambitious, although he did ensure that the building was properly maintained. Building was resumed after his son Friedrich II (Frederick the Great) came to the throne in 1740. During that year, stables for his personal guard regiment were completed to the south of the Orangery wing and work was started on the east wing. The building of the new wing was supervised by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff, the Superintendent of all the Royal Palaces, who largely followed Eosander's design. The decoration of the exterior was relatively simple but the interior furnishings were lavish. The ground floor was intended for Frederick's wife Elisabeth Christine, who, preferring Schönhausen Palace, was only an occasional visitor. The decoration of the upper floor, which included the White Hall, the Banqueting Hall, the Throne Room and the Golden Gallery, was lavish and was designed mainly by Johann August Nahl. In 1747, a second apartment for the king was prepared in the distant eastern part of the wing. During this time, Sanssouci was being built at Potsdam and once this was completed Frederick was only an occasional visitor to Charlottenburg.

In 1786, Frederick was succeeded by his nephew Friedrich Wilhelm II who transformed five rooms on the ground floor of the east wing into his summer quarters and part of the upper floor into Winter Chambers, although he did not live long enough to use them. His son, Friedrich Wilhelm III came to the throne in 1797 and reigned with his wife, Queen Luise for 43 years. They spent much of this time living in the east wing of Charlottenburg. Their eldest son, Friedrich Wilhelm IV, who reigned from 1840 to 1861, lived in the upper storey of the central palace building. After Friedrich Wilhelm IV died, the only other royal resident of the palace was Friedrich III who reigned for 99 days in 1888.

The palace was badly damaged in 1943 during the Second World War. In 1951, the war-damaged Stadtschloss in East Berlin was demolished and, as the damage to Charlottenburg was at least as serious, it was feared that it would also be demolished. However, following the efforts of Margarete Kühn, the Director of the State Palaces and Gardens, it was rebuilt to its former condition, with gigantic modern ceiling paintings by Hann Trier.

The garden was designed in 1697 in baroque style by Simeon Godeau who had been influenced by André Le Nôtre, designer of the gardens at Versailles. Godeau's design consisted of geometric patterns, with avenues and moats, which separated the garden from its natural surroundings. Beyond the formal gardens was the Carp Pond. Towards the end of the 18th century, a less formal, more natural-looking garden design became fashionable. In 1787 the Royal Gardener Georg Steiner redesigned the garden in the English landscape style for Friedrich Wilhelm II, the work being directed by Peter Joseph Lenné. After the Second World War, the centre of the garden was restored to its previous baroque style.