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 Benedictin ...
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

Trinity Sergius Lavra

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a world famous spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular site of pilgrimage and tourism. It is the most important working Russian monastery and a residence of the Patriarch. This religious and military complex represents an epitome of the growth of Russian architecture and contains some of that architecture’s finest expressions. It exerted a profound influence on architecture in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe.

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, was founded in 1337 by the monk Sergius of Radonezh. Sergius achieved great prestige as the spiritual adviser of Dmitri Donskoi, Great Prince of Moscow, who received his blessing to the battle of Kulikov of 1380. The monastery started as a little wooden church on Makovets Hill, and then developed and grew stronger through the ages.

Over the centuries a unique ensemble of more than 50 buildings and constructions of different dates were established. The whole complex was erected according to the architectural concept of the main church, the Trinity Cathedral (1422), where the relics of St. Sergius may be seen.

In 1476 Pskovian masters built a brick belfry east of the cathedral dedicated to the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. The church combines unique features of early Muscovite and Pskovian architecture. A remarkable feature of this church is a bell tower under its dome without internal interconnection between the belfry and the cathedral itself.

The Cathedral of the Assumption, echoing the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Moscow Kremlin, was erected between 1559 and 1585. The frescoes of the Assumption Cathedral were painted in 1684. At the north-western corner of the Cathedral, on the site of the western porch, in 1780 a vault containing burials of Tsar Boris Godunov and his family was built.

In the 16th century the monastery was surrounded by 6 meters high and 3,5 meters thick defensive walls, which proved their worth during the 16-month siege by  Polish-Lithuanian invaders during the Time of Trouble. They were later strengthened and expanded.

After the Upheaval of the 17th century a large-scale building programme was launched. At this time new buildings were erected in the north-western part of the monastery, including infirmaries topped with a tented church dedicated to Saints Zosima and Sawatiy of Solovki (1635-1637). Few such churches are still preserved, so this tented church with a unique tiled roof is an important contribution to the Lavra.

In the late 17th century a number of new buildings in Naryshkin (Moscow) Baroque style were added to the monastery.

Following a devastating fire in 1746, when most of the wooden buildings and structures were destroyed, a major reconstruction campaign was launched, during which the appearance of many of the buildings was changed to a more monumental style. At this time one of the tallest Russian belfries (88 meters high) was built.

In the late 18th century, when many church lands were secularized, the chaotic planning of the settlements and suburbs around the monastery was replaced by a regular layout of the streets and quarters. The town of Sergiev Posad was surrounded by traditional ramparts and walls. In the vicinity of the monastery a number of buildings belonging to it were erected: a stable yard, hotels, a hospice, a poorhouse, as well as guest and merchant houses. Major highways leading to the monastery were straightened and marked by establishing entry squares, the overall urban development being oriented towards the centrepiece - the Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra.

In 1993, the Trinity Lavra was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.