Monasteries in Germany

Schussenried Abbey

Schussenried Abbey was a Premonstratensian monastery founded by the local landowners, Berengar and Konrad of Schussenried in 1183. It was settled from the Premonstratensian Rot an der Rot Abbey. Pope Innocent III granted it his protection and guaranteed its immunity by a privilege of 13 February 1211. It acquired substantial endowments and built up a considerable territory, and was declared an imperial abbey (i.e., territ ...
Founded: 1183 | Location: Bad Schussenried, Germany

Amorbach Abbey

Amorbach Abbey was one of four Carolingian foundations intended to establish Christianity in the region of the Odenwald. It is said to take its name from Amor, a disciple of Saint Pirmin, regarded as the founder. The abbey was consecrated in 734. By 800 it had become a Reichsabtei, the abbot being directly answerable to Charlemagne. Pepin united it to the Bishopric of Würzburg, although control of it was much dispute ...
Founded: 734 AD | Location: Amorbach, Germany

Cologne Charterhouse

Cologne Charterhouse (Kölner Kartause) was a Carthusian monastery established in 1334. The monastery developed into the largest charterhouse in Germany until it was forcibly dissolved in 1794 by the invading French Revolutionary troops. The building complex was then neglected until World War II, when it was mostly destroyed. The present building complex is very largely a post-war reconstruction. Since 1928 the Cart ...
Founded: 1334 | Location: Cologne, Germany

Kastl Abbey

Kastl Abbey, dedicated to Saint Peter, was founded in 1103 or shortly before by Count Berengar II of Sulzbach together with Frederick and Otto, Counts of Kastl-Habsberg. It was dissolved in 1563 in the course of the Reformation, but re-established as a Catholic monastery in 1625. From 1636 the building was used by the Jesuits, from 1773 by the Knights Hospitallers. Dissolved again in 1803, it was the seat of the Provinci ...
Founded: 1103 | Location: Kastl, Germany

Scheyern Abbey

Scheyern Abbey was established in 1119 as the final site of the community originally founded in around 1077 at Bayrischzell by Countess Haziga of Aragon, wife of Otto II, Count of Scheyern, the ancestors of the Wittelsbachs. The first monks were from Hirsau Abbey, of which the new monastery was a priory, founded as it was against the background of the Investiture Controversy and the Hirsau Reforms. The original site prove ...
Founded: 1119 | Location: Scheyern, Germany

Beuron Archabbey

Beuron Archabbey is a major house of the Benedictine Order. It was founded in 1863 by the brothers Maurus and Placidus Wolter, in buildings which until 1802 had housed an Augustinian monastery. Between 1875 and 1887 because of political conditions during the 'Kulturkampf' the monks had to leave the abbey, but used the opportunity to found new communities elsewhere, which afterwards joined together under the lead ...
Founded: 1863 | Location: Beuron, Germany

Neuburg Abbey

Neuburg Abbey was founded in 1130 by Anshelm, a monk from the Benedictine Lorsch Abbey, as a priory of Lorsch. It did not thrive, and in 1195 was turned into a nunnery by order of Conrad of Hohenstaufen, Count Palatine of the Rhine, and raised to the status of abbey, but its condition did not improve as had been hoped. When Lorsch Abbey was suppressed in 1232 Neuburg passed under the authority first of the Bishop of Mainz ...
Founded: 1130 | Location: Heidelberg, Germany

Sankt Märgen Abbey

Between 1115 and 1118 the Augustinian monastery was established in Sankt Märgen by Count Bruno von Haigerloch-Wiesneck, Chancellor of Henry V and Provost of Straßburg, as competition to the Zähringen-founded Benedictine monastery of St. Peter auf dem Schwarzwald. The town and the monastery were dependent upon each other for many years. In 1716 a two-steepled Baroque monastery church was built, and the life ...
Founded: 1115-1118 | Location: Sankt Märgen, Germany

Lorch Abbey

Lorch Abbey is a former Benedictine family monastery of the Staufer family. It was founded around 1102 by the Duke Friedrich I from Staufer family. After the Reformation the abbey was turned in to the Protestant convent school in 1556. Today Lorch Abbey is open for tours.
Founded: 1102 | Location: Lorch, Germany

St. Trudpert's Abbey

St. Trudpert"s Abbey is a former Benedictine monastery. According to tradition, the abbey originated with Saint Trudpert, an Irish missionary and martyr in the southern Black Forest in the first half of the 7th century. He established a hermitage in Münstertal which became a monastery in the 9th century, and which by, at the latest, 900 had expanded to a monastic community supported by the influential noble fami ...
Founded: c. 900 AD | Location: Obermünstertal, Germany

Dargun Abbey Ruins

Dargun Abbey was originally a Cistercian monastery, converted after its dissolution into a palace. The monastery was founded here in 1172 on the site of a former heathen temple after the conquest of the region by Christian forces in 1164. The founding community came from Esrum Abbey in Denmark. The monastery was destroyed in 1198, and the monks left, later to found another monastery at Eldena. Dargun was re-established in ...
Founded: 1172 | Location: Dargun, Germany

Ribnitz Abbey

The Clarissa (Poor Clares) order nunnery in Ribnitz was one of the last nunnerys or monasteries to be founded in the dutchy of Mecklenburg. In 1323, Duke Heinrich II von Mecklenburg bequeathed to the Franciscans his court stronghold in the southeast of the town of Ribnitz. The first four nuns arrived from the Clarissa nunnery in the Westphalian town of Weißenfels. In 1330, the nunnery is consecrated, while today&quo ...
Founded: 1330 | Location: Ribnitz, Germany

Wessobrunn Abbey

Wessobrunn Abbey was founded in about 753 and dedicated to Saint Peter. According a legend Duke Tassilo III of Bavaria was hunting nearby and had a vision of three springs, which his servant Wezzo duly discovered the next day (the name means Wesso or Wezzo"s spring(s)). The three springs are still to be seen, but there is otherwise no evidence of the truth of the story, and it is likely that the founders were a local ...
Founded: c. 753 AD | Location: Wessobrunn, Germany

Grafschaft Abbey

Grafschaft Benedictine Abbey was founded in 1072 on a site at the foot of the Wilzenberg mountain, by Saint Anno, Archbishop of Cologne, whose statue still stands at the west gate. The monastery was dedicated between 1079 and 1089. The original buildings burned down in 1270. From 1729 the premises were gradually replaced by completely new buildings in the Baroque style; the rebuild was finished in 1742 and the new ab ...
Founded: 1072 | Location: Schmallenberg-Grafschaft, Germany

Donauwörth Abbey

The Holy Cross Abbey in Donauwörth was founded around 1040 by Mangold I von Werd as a Benedictine convent. In the early 12th century the convent moved to the western edge of the city to the highest point insode the city walls. After buildings were damaged during the Thirty Years" War, the abbey church wa rebuilt. In 1770-1780 it was expanded to the Rococo style. The monastery was dissolved in 1803. The church r ...
Founded: c. 1040 | Location: Donauwörth, Germany

Marchtal Abbey

Marchtal Abbey is a former Premonstratensian monastery founded in the 8th century. In 776 the noble clan of the Ahalolfinger made a gift of the monastery founded by their ancestor Halaholf and his wife to St Gall"s Abbey. By 993 the monastery had become a collegiate foundation of canons dedicated by Herman II, Duke of Swabia, and his wife Gerberga to the apostles Peter and Paul. During the 12th century the monastery pass ...
Founded: before 776 / 1171 | Location: Obermarchtal, Germany

Buxheim Charterhouse

Buxheim Charterhouse was formerly a monastery of the Carthusians (in fact, the largest charterhouse in Germany) and is now a monastery of the Salesians. The estate of Buxheim belonged from the mid-10th century to the chapter of Augsburg Cathedral, who in about 1100 founded a house of canons here, dedicated to Our Dear Lady. In 1402 however, after a long period of decline, in an extreme move to preserve it the then provo ...
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Buxheim, Germany

Höglwörth Abbey

Höglwörth Abbey is a former monastery of the Augustinian Canons, dedicated to St. Peter and Paul. It was founded in 1125 by Archbishop Conrad I of Salzburg. It was the only monastery saved from the secularization of Bavaria (1802 and 1803), until Rupertiwinkel became part of the Kingdom of Bavaria in 1816. The last provost Gilbert Grab sought relief from secularization from 1813, but this was not granted until 1 ...
Founded: 1125 | Location: Höglwörth, Germany

Knechsteden Abbey

Knechsteden Abbey is a former Premonstratensian abbey in Dormagen, since the 1890s a house of the Spiritans. It was founded in 1130, and in 1138 building began on the church, which was created a basilica minor in 1974.
Founded: 1130 | Location: Dormagen, Germany

Rot an der Rot Abbey

Rot an der Rot Abbey was the first Premonstratensian monastery in Swabia. The imposing structure of the former monastery is situated on a hill between the valleys of the rivers Rot and Haslach. The monastery church, dedicated to St Verena, and the convent buildings are an important part of the Upper Swabian Baroque Route. Apart from the actual monastic buildings, a number of other structures have been preserved among whic ...
Founded: c. 1126 | Location: Rot an der Rot, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte

The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is a baroque French château built between 1658-1661 for Nicolas Fouquet. It was made for Marquis de Belle Île, Viscount of Melun and Vaux, the superintendent of finances of Louis XIV, the château was an influential work of architecture in mid-17th century Europe. At Vaux-le-Vicomte, the architect Louis Le Vau, the landscape architect André le Nôtre, and the painter-decorator Charles Le Brun worked together on a large-scale project for the first time. Their collaboration marked the beginning of the 'Louis XIV style' combining architecture, interior design and landscape design. The garden's pronounced visual axis is an example of this style.

To secure the necessary grounds for the elaborate plans for Vaux-le-Vicomte’s garden and castle, Fouquet purchased and demolished three villages. The displaced villagers were then employed in the upkeep and maintenance of the gardens. It was said to have employed eighteen thousand workers and cost as much as 16 million livres. The château and its patron became for a short time a focus for fine feasts, literature and arts. The poet La Fontaine and the playwright Molière were among the artists close to Fouquet. At the inauguration of Vaux-le-Vicomte, a Molière play was performed, along with a dinner event organized by François Vatel, and an impressive firework show.

After Fouquet was arrested and imprisoned for life, and his wife exiled, Vaux-le-Vicomte was placed under sequestration. The king seized, confiscated or purchased 120 tapestries, the statues, and all the orange trees from Vaux-le-Vicomte. He then sent the team of artists (Le Vau, Le Nôtre and Le Brun) to design what would be a much larger project than Vaux-le-Vicomte, the palace and gardens of Versailles.

The Marshal Villars became the new owner without first seeing the chateau. In 1764, the Marshal's son sold the estate to the Duke of Praslin, whose descendants would maintain the property for over a century. It is sometimes mistakenly reported that the château was the scene of a murder in 1847, when duke Charles de Choiseul-Praslin, killed his wife in her bedroom, but this did not happen at Vaux-le-Vicomte but at the Paris residence of the Duke.

In 1875, after thirty years of neglect, the estate was sold to Alfred Sommier in a public auction. The château was empty, some of the outbuildings had fallen into ruin, and the famous gardens were totally overgrown. The huge task of restoration and refurbishment began under the direction of the architect Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur, assisted by the landscape architect Elie Lainé. When Sommier died in 1908, the château and the gardens had recovered their original appearance. His son, Edme Sommier, and his daughter-in-law completed the task. Today, his descendants continue to preserve the château, which remains privately owned by Patrice and Cristina de Vogüé, the Count and Countess de Vogüé. It is now administered by their three sons Alexandre, Jean-Charles and Ascanio de Vogüé. Recognized by the state as a monument historique, it is open to the public regularly.

Architecture

The chateau is situated near the northern end of a 1.5-km long north-south axis with the entrance front facing north. Its elevations are perfectly symmetrical to either side of this axis. Somewhat surprisingly the interior plan is also nearly completely symmetrical with few differences between the eastern and western halves. The two rooms in the center, the entrance vestibule to the north and the oval salon to the south, were originally an open-air loggia, dividing the chateau into two distinct sections. The interior decoration of these two rooms was therefore more typical of an outdoor setting. Three sets of three arches, those on the entrance front, three more between the vestibule and the salon, and the three leading from the salon to the garden are all aligned and permitted the arriving visitor to see through to the central axis of the garden even before entering the chateau. The exterior arches could be closed with iron gates, and only later were they filled in with glass doors and the interior arches with mirrored doors. Since the loggia divided the building into two halves, there are two symmetrical staircases on either side of it, rather than a single staircase. The rooms in the eastern half of the house were intended for the use of the king, those in the western were for Fouquet. The provision of a suite of rooms for the king was normal practice in aristocratic houses of the time, since the king travelled frequently.

Another surprising feature of the plan is the thickness of the main body of the building (corps de logis), which consists of two rows of rooms running east and west. Traditionally the middle of the corps de logis of French chateaux consisted of a single row of rooms. Double-thick corps de logis had already been used in hôtels particuliers in Paris, including Le Vau's Hôtel Tambonneau, but Vaux was the first chateau to incorporate this change. Even more unusual, the main rooms are all on the ground floor rather than the first floor (the traditional piano nobile). This accounts for the lack of a grand staircase or a gallery, standard elements of most contemporary chateaux. Also noteworthy are corridors in the basement and on the first floor which run the length of house providing privacy to the rooms they access. Up to the middle of the 17th century, corridors were essentially unknown. Another feature of the plan, the four pavilions, one at each corner of the building, is more conventional.

Vaux-le-Vicomte was originally planned to be constructed in brick and stone, but after the mid-century, as the middle classes began to imitate this style, aristocratic circles began using stone exclusively. Rather late in the design process, Fouquet and Le Vau switched to stone, a decision that may have been influenced by the use of stone at François Mansart's Château de Maisons. The service buildings flanking the large avant-cour to the north of the house remained in brick and stone, and other structures preceding them were in rubble-stone and plaster, a social ranking of building materials that would be common in France for a considerable length of time thereafter.

The main chateau is constructed entirely on a moated platform, reached via two bridges, both aligned with the central axis and placed on the north and south sides. The moat is a picturesque holdover from medieval fortified residences, and is again a feature that Le Vau may have borrowed from Maisons. The moat at Vaux may also have been inspired by the previous chateau on the site, which Le Vau's work replaced.

Gardens

The château rises on an elevated platform in the middle of the woods and marks the border between unequal spaces, each treated in a different way. This effect is more distinctive today, as the woodlands are mature, than it was in the seventeenth century when the site had been farmland, and the plantations were new.

Le Nôtre's garden was the dominant structure of the great complex, stretching nearly a mile and a half (3 km), with a balanced composition of water basins and canals contained in stone curbs, fountains, gravel walks, and patterned parterres that remains more coherent than the vast display Le Nôtre was to create at Versailles.

Le Nôtre created a magnificent scene to be viewed from the house, using the laws of perspective. Le Notre used the natural terrain to his advantage. He placed the canal at the lowest part of the complex, thus hiding it from the main perspectival point of view. Past the canal, the garden ascends a large open lawn and ends with the Hercules column added in the 19th century. Shrubberies provided a picture frame to the garden that also served as a stage for royal fêtes.

From the top of the grand staircase, this gives the impression that the entire garden is revealed in one single glance. Initially, the view consists of symmetrical rows of shrubbery, avenues, fountains, statues, flowers and other pieces developed to imitate nature – these elements exemplify the Baroque desire to mold nature to fit its wishes, thus using nature to imitate nature. The centerpiece is a large reflecting pool flanked by grottos holding statues in their many niches. The grand sloping lawn is not visible until one begins to explore the garden, when the viewer is made aware of the optical elements involved and discovers that the garden is much larger than it looks.