Monasteries in Germany

Lüne Abbey

Lüne Abbey was originally built for Benedictine nuns and today is home to a chapter of Lutheran conventuals. It is one of several former monasteries administered by the Hanoverian monastic chamber. Lüne Abbey was founded in 1172 by Hildeswidis von Markboldestorp. In the founding document by Hugo, Bishop of Verden, there is no mention of the observances to be followed, so that it is assumed that it was a chapter ...
Founded: 1172 | Location: Lüneburg, Germany

Barth Abbey

Barth Abbey was originally a castle built around 1573 by Bogislaw XIII. After his departure, the castle was neglected, damaged in the various wars and was repaired only in a makeshift manner. In 1710/1711, it served as a court venue for the last time. After 1722, the Swedish King gave the ruins of the castle to the Swedish-Western Pomeranian knights as a present. From 1733 to 1741, the baroque building complex of the Aris ...
Founded: 1573 | Location: Barth, Germany

Polling Abbey

According to legend, the founder of Polling Abbey was Duke Tassilo III of Bavaria in about 750, but it seems more likely that the founders were members of the powerful Bavarian noble family of the Huosi. Initially this was a Benedictine monastery, but later became a house of Augustinian canons. The abbey was dissolved during the secularization of 1803 and the buildings were mostly demolished between 1805 and 1807. The i ...
Founded: 8th century AD | Location: Polling, Germany

Rehna Abbey

Rehna Abbey is a former Benedictine (the 13th century) and Premonstratensian nunnery (until 1552). It was founded between 1230 and 1236. In 1254 the monastery was inaugurated and this year also began the construction of the cloister between church and convent. In the 14th and 15th centuries, the monastery was one of the most important monasteries Mecklenburg. Numerous Lübeck families had their daughters educated there an ...
Founded: 1230-1254 | Location: Rehna, Germany

Lichtenthal Abbey

Lichtenthal Abbey is a Cistercian nunnery founded in 1245 by Irmengard bei Rhein, widow of Margrave Hermann V of Baden. Her body was brought here in 1248 from Backnang Abbey for re-burial. She seriously over-reached herself financially on the project, however, and was obliged to ask her family for help. The imposing gateway, built in 1781, leads into a three-sided walled courtyard with a fountain dedicated to the Blessed ...
Founded: 1245 | Location: Lichtental, Germany

Engelberg Abbey

Engelberg Abbey is a Franciscan monastery located on the hill above the town of Grossheubach. The hill spur on which the abbey is situated was likely used in prehistoric times as a cult site. Around 1300, a chapel dedicated to St. Michael was built there and a statue of Mary erected. The likely location of this chapel was where the choir of today"s church stands. The first documented pilgrimage occurred in 1406. In 1469, ...
Founded: 1630s | Location: Grossheubach, Germany

Altomünster Abbey

A small monastery was founded in Altomünster by Saint Alto, a wandering monk, in about 750. The vita of Alto, likely written by Otloh of St. Emmeram after 1056 and ostensibly based on oral knowledge (written lore having been lost through plunder), reports that the monastery was visited by Saint Boniface, who dedicated the church. Another 11th-century text notes that Boniface also dedicated the church in nearby Benedi ...
Founded: 750 AD | Location: Altomünster, Germany

Cismar Abbey

Cismar Abbey was a Benedictine monastery founded in 1238 by Count Adolf IV of Holstein as alternative accommodation for Benedictine monks from Lübeck. In the mid-15th century it was one of the six original members of the influential Bursfelde Congregation, a Benedictine reform movement. After three prosperous centuries, based largely on its possession of a relic of the blood of Christ and a healing spring dedicated t ...
Founded: 1238 | Location: Cismar, Germany

Waldsassen Abbey

Waldsassen Abbey was founded by Gerwich of Wolmundstein, a Benedictine monk of Sigeberg Abbey, with the permission of his former abbot Kuno, then Bishop of Regensburg, and built between 1128 and 1132. The original community was sent to Waldsassen from Volkenroda Abbey in Thuringia, of the line of Morimond Abbey. The first abbot was elected in 1133, making this one of the earliest Cistercian foundations. Soon the abbey be ...
Founded: 1128-1132 | Location: Waldsassen, Germany

Aldersbach Abbey

Aldersbach Abbey was founded in 1127 by Saint Otto, Bishop of Bamberg, as a community of Augustinian Canons. It is located on a site near a church consecrated in 880 by Englmar, Bishop of Passau, in honour of Saint Peter. In 1146 Egilbert, the successor of Otto, gave the foundation and a new church of Our Lady to the Cistercians, and after the departure of the canons, Abbot Sefried, with monks from Ebrach Abbey, took poss ...
Founded: 1127 | Location: Aldersbach, Germany

Metten Abbey

Metten Abbey, or St. Michael"s Abbey, was founded in 766 by Gamelbert of Michaelsbuch. For many centuries Metten was under the lordship of the Dukes and Electors of Bavaria. When Charlemagne stayed in Regensburg for three years after 788, Utto turned his abbey over to the Frankish ruler, making the Ducal Abbey a Royal Abbey. After the Carolingians became extinct, Metten was turned into an Imperial Abbey. Besides the ...
Founded: 766 AD | Location: Metten, Germany

Tückelhausen Charterhouse

Tückelhausen Charterhouse is a former Carthusian monastery dedicated to Saints Lambert, John the Baptist and George. It was founded in 1138 by Otto I, Bishop of Bamberg, as a double canonry of the Premonstratensians. From 1351 it belonged to the Carthusians. The charterhouse was dissolved in 1803 during the secularisation of Bavaria and passed mostly into private ownership. The prior's lodging became the parish priest's ...
Founded: 1138 | Location: Tückelhausen, Germany

Malchow Abbey

Malchow Abbey is a former Cistercian nunnery founded in 1298, when the nuns from Röbel settled in Alt-Malchow and took over the premises of the former Magdalene community here. Nicholas II, Prince of Werle, gave the new nunnery the patronage of the churches at Alt-Malchow, Neu-Malchow and Lexow. After the Reformation the abbey was a collegiate foundation for noblewomen from 1572 to 1923. The former abbey building co ...
Founded: 1298 | Location: Malchow, Germany

Elchingen Abbey Church

Elchingen Abbey was a Benedictine monastery in Oberelchingen. For much of its history, Elchingen was one of the 40-odd self-ruling imperial abbeys of the Holy Roman Empire and, as such, was a virtually independent state that contained several villages aside from the monastery itself. At the time of its secularisation in 1802, the abbey covered 112 square kilometers and had 4000-4200 subjects. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary ...
Founded: 1128 | Location: Oberelchingen, Germany

Niederaltaich Abbey

Niederaltaich Abbey was founded in 731 or possibly 741 by Duke Odilo of Bavaria. The monastery, dedicated to Saint Maurice, was settled by monks from Reichenau Abbey under Saint Pirmin. Eberswind, the first abbot, is considered the compiler of the Lex Baiuvariorum, the first code of law of the Bavarian people. The monastery brought great areas of Lower Bavaria into cultivation as far as the territory of the present Czech ...
Founded: 731-741 AD | Location: Niederalteich, Germany

Stolpe Abbey Ruins

Stolpe Abbey was the first monastery in Pomerania. Ratibor I, Duke of Pomerania, founded the abbey on 3 May 1153 in memory of his brother Wartislaw I. Wartislaw, who had subdued the area and converted its people to Christianity in the late 1120s, was killed near the site of the future monastery; according to legend he was murdered by a Liutician pagan. The abbey was settled by Benedictine monks from Berge Abbey near Magd ...
Founded: 1153 | Location: Stolpe, Germany

Ellwangen Abbey

Ellwangen Abbey was the earliest Benedictine monastery established in the Duchy of Swabia. According to the monastery chronicles the abbey was established around 764 by Herulph and his brother Ariolf, both documented as Chorbishops of Langres. There is however some evidence that the foundation dates back to 732. The first monks may came from the Abbey of St. Benignus at Dijon. Ellwangen in its early days was home to Abbo ...
Founded: c. 764 AD | Location: Ellwangen (Jagst), Germany

St. Ottilien Archabbey

St. Ottilien Archabbey is a Benedictine monastery in Emming near Eresing and the Ammersee. It is the mother house of the St. Ottilien Congregation, otherwise known as the Missionary Benedictines. In the 16th century a small castle was built at Emming, including a chapel dedicated to Saint Ottilia. Both castle and chapel were made over in the Baroque style in the 17th century. After several changes of owner, and the demo ...
Founded: 1884 | Location: Eresing, Germany

Nütschau Priory

Nütschau Priory is a Benedictine house located in the former Nütschau manor house. The manor was built in 1577-1579 by Heinrich Rantzau, this community originated after World War II as a refuge for displaced persons, particularly Catholics from the former German territories. The church acquired the site in 1951 and at the request of Hermann Wilhelm Berning, the Bishop of Osnabrück, it was developed by and ...
Founded: 1577/1951 | Location: Nütschau, Germany

Königsbronn Abbey

Königsbronn Abbey was a Cistercian monastery founded in 1303 by Emperor Albert I. The first monks were settled from Salem Abbey. When the permanent buildings were constructed between 1310 and 1325, most of the stone came from the ruined castle. The new monastery was called Königsbronn, from which the town took its name. Albert granted it as part of its endowment the advowson of the church of Reutlingen, where th ...
Founded: 1303 | Location: Königsbronn, 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.