Monasteries in Germany

Schöntal Abbey

Schöntal Abbey is a former Cistercian abbey famous as one of the most impressive pieces of Baroque architecture in northern Württemberg. It was founded in 1153 in Neusass by Wolfram von Bebenburg and was settled by monks from Maulbronn Abbey. The original site proved unsuitable and the new community moved to the present location in Schöntal on the Jagst between 1157 and 1163. The land for the new site was p ...
Founded: 1153 | Location: Schöntal, Germany

Roggenburg Abbey

Roggenburg Abbey is widely known for its almost unchanged Baroque building and the organ concerts that are held in the church. For over three centuries, Roggenburg was one of the 40-odd self-ruling imperial abbeys of the Holy Roman Empire and, as such, was a virtually independent state. Its abbot had seat and voice at the Imperial Diet where he sat on the Bench of the Prelates of Swabia. In 1126 Count Bertold of Bibereck ...
Founded: 1126 | Location: Roggenburg, Germany

Kaisheim Abbey

The Imperial Abbey of Kaisersheim was a Cistercian monastery in Kaisersheim, now Kaisheim. As one of the 40-odd self-ruling imperial abbeys of the Holy Roman Empire, Kaisersheim was a virtually independent state. Its abbot had seat and voice at the Imperial Diet where he sat on the Bench of the Prelates of Swabia. At the time of its secularisation in 1802, the Abbey covered 136 square kilometers and has 9,500-10,000 subje ...
Founded: 1135 | Location: Kaisheim, Germany

Mariawald Abbey

Mariawald Abbey is a monastery of the Trappists (formally known as the Cistercians of the Strict Observance), located above the village of Heimbach. Following Heinrich Fluitter"s vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a shrine and chapel were built on the site of it, which became a place of pilgrimage, the Marienwallfahrt. For the proper care of the site and the pilgrims land was given in 1480 to the Cistercian ...
Founded: 1486 | Location: Heimbach, Germany

St. Stephen's Abbey

St. Stephen"s Abbey, dedicated to Saint Stephen, was founded in 969 by Saint Ulrich, Bishop of Augsburg, and used by Augustinian canonesses. It was dissolved in the secularisation of Bavaria in 1803, and the premises passed into the possession of the town. The army used the site for a few years as a quartermaster"s store. In 1828 King Ludwig I of Bavaria founded a grammar school here, as a successor to the form ...
Founded: 969 AD | Location: Augsburg, Germany

Kirchberg convent

The Kirchberg convent is considered to be one of the most historically important religious buildings in Baden-Wuerttemberg. It also ranks as one of the oldest, having been built in the early 13th century, and one of the first female church houses in central Europe. The Kirchberg monastery was a convent built in 1237, on the site of a former castle. In 1245 the monastery was recognised by Pope Innocent IV. Over roughly th ...
Founded: 1237 | Location: Kirchberg, Germany

Rott Abbey

Rott Abbey, dedicated to Saints Marinus and Anianus, was founded in the late 11th century by Count Kuno of Rott (d. 1086). After it was dissolved in 1803 in the secularisation of Bavaria, the buildings were sold off to various private owners and largely demolished. The Rococo church however still remains.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Rott am Inn, Germany

Frauenberg Abbey

Frauenberg Franciscan monastery, founded in 1623, is situated in a park at the top of one of Fulda’s seven hills. From here you have a magnificent view of the city and the Rhön and Vogelsberg mountains. The monastery is a late baroque construction with a very fine interior which has undergone intensive restoration work.
Founded: 1623 | Location: Fulda, Germany

Zarrentin Abbey

The Cistercian Zarrentin Abbey was founded around 1250 and securalized in 1552 due the Reformation. Parts of the monastery have survived and the the abbey church is today a parish church.
Founded: 1250 | Location: Zarrentin, Germany

Plankstetten Abbey

Plankstetten Abbey was founded in 1129 as a private monastery of the bishops of Eichstätt by Count Ernst of Hirschberg and his brother Gebhard of Hirschberg, Bishop of Eichstätt. The Romanesque crypt remains from the time of the foundation. After the decline in monastic standards in the 15th century, the abbey was reformed by Abbot Ulrich IV Dürner (1461–94), who also founded the brewery. The abbey w ...
Founded: 1129 | Location: Plankstetten, Germany

St. George's Abbey

St. George"s Abbey in Isny is a former Benedictine abbey founded in 1096 by the Counts of Altshausen-Veringen. In 1106 the foundation was confirmed by Pope Paschal II. Towards the end of the 12th century a Benedictine nunnery was also established in Isny but this was moved in about 1189 to Rohrdorf. St. George"s Abbey was responsible for the foundation of the town of Isny, which was developed as a market at the ...
Founded: 1096 | Location: Isny im Allgäu, Germany

Prüll Charterhouse

Prüll Charterhouse is a former Carthusian monastery. The monastery, dedicated to Saint Vitus, was established as Prüll Abbey, a Benedictine foundation, in 997 by Gebhard I, Bishop of Regensburg, and his brother Rapoto. In about 1100 the Ottonian church building was replaced by a Romanesque hall church, the first of the sort in Bavaria. In 1484 Prüll became a Carthusian monastery, with the support of Albert ...
Founded: 997 AD | Location: Regensburg, Germany

Reichenbach Priory

Reichenbach Priory was a house of the Benedictine Order located at Klosterreichenbach. The monastery was founded, against the background of the Investiture Controversy and the Hirsau Reforms, as a priory of Hirsau Abbey, from where it was settled, in 1082; in 1085 the church was dedicated to Saint Gregory the Great by Bishop Gebhard of Konstanz. The Vögte (lords protectors) of the monastery were the Counts of Eberst ...
Founded: 1082 | Location: Klosterreichenbach, Germany

Oberschönenfeld Abbey

Oberschönenfeld Abbey is a Cistercian nunnery in Gessertshausen. As early as around 1186 there were Beguines, or a similar community of women, on this site. In about 1211 they formed a more structured community which by 1248, when the church was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, had been formally constituted as a Cistercian nunnery, accounted a daughter house of Kaisheim Abbey; its founders were the local nobleman Volkma ...
Founded: 1211-1248 | Location: Gessertshausen, Germany

Maria Engelport Monastery

Maria Engelport Monastery lies in the sleepy valley of the Flaumbach, a tributary valley of the Mosel. It was founded three times during its history. The original foundation took place in 1220. According to the legend appeared to knight Emelrikus of Monreal, he lived near Treis-Karden in Fankel, two angels with burning candles and jingling bells as he was out hunting. At this place he built a church and a convent. Cisterc ...
Founded: 1220/1903 | Location: Treis, Germany

Preetz Priory

Preetz Priory is a former German Benedictine monastery of nuns founded in 1211 by Graf Albrecht of Orlamünde, nephew of King Valdemar II of Denmark. He founded it following a mystical experience which he later recounted happened while he was stalking a deer. After following it into a glen, the deer stood still and he suddenly saw a gleaming cross appear between its antlers. He felt that the site was a holy place whic ...
Founded: 1211 | Location: Preetz, Germany

Weissenau Abbey

Weissenau Abbey was an Imperial abbey (Reichsabtei) of the Holy Roman Empire. The abbey, a Premonstratensian monastery, was an Imperial Estate and therefore its abbot had seat and voice in the Reichstag as a prelate of the Swabian Bench. The abbey existed from 1145 until the secularisation of 1802-1803. The monastery was founded in 1145 by Gebizo of Ravensburg, a ministerialis of the Welfs, and his sister Luitgarde. Its ...
Founded: 1145 | Location: Ravensburg, Germany

Söflingen Abbey

Söflingen Abbey was a nunnery of the Order of Poor Ladies, also known as the Poor Clares. Being the oldest nunnery of this order in Germany, it was also its most important and most affluent. Söflingen Abbey originated from a pre-Franciscan congregation of women that had acquired the rights over three farmsteads close to the river Danube near Ulm. It was for the first time mentioned in 1237. Soon the original location be ...
Founded: 1253 | Location: Ulm, Germany

Schuttern Abbey Church

Schuttern Abbey was a Benedictine monastery which was, according to tradition, founded in 603 by the wandering Irish monk Offo. After some initial difficulties the monastery and the settlement round it, at that time known as Offoniscella ('cell of Offo'), gradually flourished. In the 8th century Saint Pirmin introduced the Rule of St. Benedict and revived the fortunes of the abbey, as demonstrated by the rush of ...
Founded: 603 AD | Location: Schuttern, Germany

Mallersdorf Abbey

Mallersdorf was formerly a monastery of the Benedictine Order and is now a Franciscan convent in Mallersdorf-Pfaffenberg. The monastery, dedicated to Saint John the Evangelist, was founded in 1107 by Heinrich of Kirchberg, a ministerialis of Niedermünster in Regensburg, and settled by monks from either the monastery of Michelsberg in Bamberg or St. Emmeram"s Abbey in Regensburg. Under Abbot Eppo (1122-1143) th ...
Founded: 1107 | Location: Mallersdorf, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Reims Cathedral

Notre-Dame de Reims (Our Lady of Reims) is the seat of the Archdiocese of Reims, where the kings of France were crowned. The cathedral replaced an older church, destroyed by fire in 1211, that was built on the site of the basilica where Clovis was baptized by Saint Remi, bishop of Reims, in AD 496. That original structure had itself been erected on the site of some Roman baths. A major tourism destination, the cathedral receives about one million visitors annually.

History

Excavations have shown that the present building occupies roughly the same site as the original cathedral, founded c. 400 under the episcopacy of St Nicaise. That church was rebuilt during the Carolingian period and further extended in the 12th century. On 19 May 1051, King Henry I of France and Anne of Kiev were married in the cathedral.

On May 6, 1210 the cathedral was damaged by fire and reconstruction started shortly after, beginning at the eastern end. Documentary records show the acquisition of land to the west of the site in 1218, suggesting the new cathedral was substantially larger than its predecessors, the lengthening of the nave presumably being an adaptation to afford room for the crowds that attended the coronations. In 1233 a long-running dispute between the cathedral chapter and the townsfolk (regarding issues of taxation and legal jurisdiction) boiled over into open revolt. Several clerics were killed or injured during the resulting violence and the entire cathedral chapter fled the city, leaving it under an interdict (effectively banning all public worship and sacraments). Work on the new cathedral was suspended for three years, only resuming in 1236 after the clergy returned to the city and the interdict was lifted following mediation by the King and the Pope. Construction then continued more slowly. The area from the crossing eastwards was in use by 1241 but the nave was not roofed until 1299 (when the French King lifted the tax on lead used for that purpose). Work on the west facade took place in several phases, which is reflected in the very different styles of some of the sculptures. The upper parts of the facade were completed in the 14th century, but apparently following 13th century designs, giving Reims an unusual unity of style.

Unusually the names of the cathedral's original architects are known. A labyrinth built into floor of the nave at the time of construction or shortly after (similar to examples at Chartres and Amiens) included the names of four master masons (Jean d'Orbais, Jean-Le-Loup, Gaucher de Reims and Bernard de Soissons) and the number of years they worked there, though art historians still disagree over who was responsible for which parts of the building. The labyrinth itself was destroyed in 1779 but its details and inscriptions are known from 18th century drawings. The clear association here between a labyrinth and master masons adds weight to the argument that such patterns were an allusion to the emerging status of the architect (through their association with the mythical artificer Daedalus, who built the Labyrinth of King Minos). The cathedral also contains further evidence of the rising status of the architect in the tomb of Hugues Libergier (d. 1268, architect of the now-destroyed Reims church of St-Nicaise). Not only is he given the honor of an engraved slab; he is shown holding a miniature model of his church (an honor formerly reserved for noble donors) and wearing the academic garb befitting an intellectual.

The towers, 81 m tall, were originally designed to rise 120m. The south tower holds just two great bells; one of them, named “Charlotte” by Charles, Cardinal of Lorraine in 1570, weighs more than 10,000 kg.

During the Hundred Years' War the cathedral was under siege by the English from 1359 to 1360. After it fell the English held Reims and the Cathedral until 1429 when it was liberated by Joan of Arc which allowed the Dauphin Charles to be crowned king on 17 July 1429.

In 1875 the French National Assembly voted £80,000 for repairs of the façade and balustrades. The façade is the finest portion of the building, and one of the great masterpieces of the Middle Ages.

German shellfire during the opening engagements of the First World War on 20 September 1914 burned, damaged and destroyed important parts of the cathedral. Scaffolding around the north tower caught fire, spreading the blaze to all parts of the carpentry superstructure. The lead of the roofs melted and poured through the stone gargoyles, destroying in turn the bishop's palace. Images of the cathedral in ruins were used during the war as propaganda images by the French against the Germans and their deliberate destruction of buildings rich in national and cultural heritage. Restoration work began in 1919, under the direction of Henri Deneux, a native of Reims and chief architect of the Monuments Historiques; the cathedral was fully reopened in 1938, thanks in part to financial support from the Rockefellers, but work has been steadily going on since.

Exterior

The three portals are laden with statues and statuettes; among European cathedrals, only Chartres has more sculpted figures. The central portal, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, is surmounted by a rose window framed in an arch itself decorated with statuary, in place of the usual sculptured tympanum. The 'gallery of the kings' above shows the baptism of Clovis in the centre flanked by statues of his successors.

The facades of the transepts are also decorated with sculptures. That on the North has statues of bishops of Reims, a representation of the Last Judgment and a figure of Jesus (le Beau Dieu), while that on the south side has a modern rose window with the prophets and apostles. Fire destroyed the roof and the spires in 1481: of the four towers that flanked the transepts, nothing remains above the height of the roof. Above the choir rises an elegant lead-covered timber bell tower that is 18 m tall, reconstructed in the 15th century and in the 1920s.

Interior

The interior comprises a nave with aisles, transepts with aisles, a choir with double aisles, and an apse with ambulatory and radiating chapels. It has interesting stained glass ranging from the 13th to the 20th century. The rose window over the main portal and the gallery beneath are of rare magnificence.

The cathedral possesses fine tapestries. Of these the most important series is that presented by Robert de Lenoncourt, archbishop under François I (1515-1547), representing the life of the Virgin. They are now to be seen in the former bishop's palace, the Palace of Tau. The north transept contains a fine organ in a flamboyant Gothic case. The choir clock is ornamented with curious mechanical figures. Marc Chagall designed the stained glass installed in 1974 in the axis of the apse.

The treasury, kept in the Palace of Tau, includes many precious objects, among which is the Sainte Ampoule, or holy flask, the successor of the ancient one that contained the oil with which French kings were anointed, which was broken during the French Revolution, a fragment of which the present Ampoule contains.

Notre-Dame de Reims cathedral, the former Abbey of Saint-Remi, and the Palace of Tau were added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1991.