Monasteries in Germany

Schönau Abbey

Schönau Abbey was a Cistercian monastery founded in 1142 from Eberbach Abbey. The present settlement of Schönau grew up round the monastery. By the end of the 12th century Schönau was already in use as a burial place of the Staufen family: in 1195 Conrad of Hohenstaufen, Count Palatine of the Rhine, was buried here, as were his son of the same name, probably in 1186, and both his wives. Adolf, Count Palatin ...
Founded: 1142 | Location: Schönau, Germany

Rinchnach Priory

Rinchnach Priory, dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, was founded in 1011 by Saint Gunther, a Benedictine monk of Niederaltaich Abbey, as the first settlement in the central Bavarian Forest. In 1029 Emperor Conrad II endowed the monastery with land. It was made a priory of Niederaltaich in 1040, when Saint Gunther moved on to Gutwasser (the present Dobra Voda) in Bohemia. In 1488 the Hussites burnt the monastery down. I ...
Founded: 1011 | Location: Rinchnach, Germany

St. Vitus' Abbey

St. Vitus' Abbey on the Rott was a Benedictine monastery founded in 1121 by the nobleman Dietmar of Lungau, and dissolved during the secularisation of Bavaria in 1802. The premises were given at first to the Damenstift of St. Anna in Munich, but in 1829 came into the possession of the Saxon Baron Maximilian von Speck-Sternburg and then in 1858 were sold to Count Maximilian von Montgelas. Formerly in the diocese of Salzb ...
Founded: 1121 | Location: Neumarkt-Sankt Veit, Germany

Bredelar Abbey

In the year 1196, the Archbishop of Cologne summoned monks from the Cistercian Abbey in Hardhausen to establish a new abbey in a former Premonstratensian convent nearby that had been founded in 1170 but disbanded shortly thereafter. As abbey and landholder, the “Zisterze Breidelare“ would go on to spur the economic, intellectual and spiritual growth of the northeast Sauerland region. The Bredelar Abbey thrived for a go ...
Founded: 1196 | Location: Bredelar, Germany

Attel Abbey

Attel Abbey was a monastery, originally of the Benedictines, later of the Brothers Hospitallers. The monastery, dedicated to Saint Mary the Virgin and Saint Michael was founded as a Benedictine abbey by Count Arnold of Diessen-Andechs in around 1037. It was dissolved in 1803 in the secularisation of Bavaria. The abbey buildings were partly demolished, partly acquired by private owners. In 1874 the Bavarian government set ...
Founded: c. 1037 | Location: Attel, Germany

Geisenfeld Abbey

Count Eberhard II and his wife Adelheit founded Geisenfeld Abbey in 1030 after their three children had died leaving no descendants. It replaced a monastery in today"s Engelbrechtsmünster that had been destroyed around 955 AD by the Hungarians. The founders gave the abbey a lavish endowment. Instead of monks, as before, the Abbey was for use by nuns of the Order of Saint Benedict from noble families. It accommod ...
Founded: 1030 | Location: Geisenfeld, Germany

Oberalteich Abbey

Oberalteich Abbey, dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul, was founded in c. 1100 by Count Frederick of Bogen, a lord protector of Regensburg cathedral. After a serious fire in 1245 the premises were re-constructed under abbots Heimo (1247 to 1252) and Purchard (1256 to 1260). Under abbot Friedrich II (1346 to 1358) the abbey was fortified. The church was extensively altered in the time of abbot Johann II Asperger (1438 to 14 ...
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Oberalteich, Germany

Schlehdorf Abbey

Schlehdorf Abbey was originally a Benedictine monastery, later an Augustinian monastery, and is today a convent of the Missionary Dominican Sisters of King William's Town. The abbey, dedicated to Saints Dionysius and Tertullinus, was founded around perhaps 740 from the nearby Benediktbeuern Abbey. In 769 it was resettled by monks from the abandoned Scharnitz Abbey. The first abbot, Atto, brought with him the relics of Sa ...
Founded: 740-769 AD | Location: Schlehdorf, Germany

Thierhaupten Abbey

Thierhaupten Abbey, dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul, was founded in the late 8th century by Duke Tassilo III of Bavaria - the last of the Agilolfings, who was deposed by Charlemagne in 788. Under the Carolingian dynasty, the abbey became a possession of the Augsburg bishops. Its name Thierhaupten, which means 'beasts' heads' in German, is supposed to refer to a heathen shrine formerly on the site, possibly the remnants ...
Founded: 8th century AD | Location: Thierhaupten, Germany

Ursberg Abbey

Ursberg Abbey is a former Premonstratensian monastery, now a convent of the Franciscan St. Joseph"s Congregation. The monastery, dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint John the Evangelist, was founded between 1126 and 1128 by the nobleman Wernher of Schwabegg-Balzhausen. It was the first Premonstratensian foundation in southern Germany. The monastery became an Imperial abbey in 1143. As was usual with early Premonstrate ...
Founded: 1126-1128 | Location: Ursberg, Germany

Hardehausen Abbey

In 1009 Herswithehusen (Hardehausen) became the property of Meinwerk, bishop of Paderborn. The abbey was founded in 1140 by bishop Bernhard I of Paderborn as a daughter house of Kamp Abbey on the Lower Rhine. Construction was completed with the dedication of the church in 1165. During the Thirty Years" War the abbey was looted and destroyed. During its reconstruction in the years 1680 to 1750 it received ...
Founded: 1140 | Location: Warburg, Germany

Aura Abbey

Aura Abbey was a house of the Benedictine Order located at Aura an der Saale. Built on the site of an earlier castle, and dedicated to Saints Laurence and Gregory, it was founded by Bishop Otto of Bamberg between about 1108 and 1113; the foundation charter is dated 1122. The new foundation was settled by monks from Hirsau Abbey. The first abbot was Ekkehard of Aura, a monk from Bamberg, famous as the continuer of the Welt ...
Founded: 1108-1122 | Location: Aura an der Saale, Germany

Sonnefeld Monastery

Sonnefeld Monastery, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, was founded in 1260 by Henry II von Sonneberg and his wife Kunigunde. The Monastery was at the beginning in Ebersdorf bei Coburg but, after a great fire in 1267, it was moved to Hofstädten. But the Monastery and its surrounding settlement and district adopted Sonnefeld as their names and kept it until 1889, when Sonnefeld and Hofstädten merged to become Sonnefel ...
Founded: 1260 | Location: Sonnefeld, Germany

Ahrensbök Charterhouse

Ahrensbök Charterhouse was a former Carthusian monastery or charterhouse established in 1397. The estates with which it was endowed reached as far as Scharbeutz on the Bay of Lübeck. During the Reformation the monastery was secularised, and with its estates fell into the hands of John II, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg, in 1584, who had the buildings demolished. The building materials were used between ...
Founded: 1397 | Location: Ahrensbök, Germany

Rühn Abbey

Rühn Abbey is a former Cistercian monastery founded by Brunward, bishop of Schwerin in 1232. Already on May 29, 1292 the monastery was burned down completely. After reconstruction 30-40 nuns lived, prayed and worked there. After the Reformation Duke Ulrich gave the monastery to his wife Elisabeth. She founded in Rühn the first girls" school in Mecklenburg. Numerous renovations and extensions were made then ...
Founded: 1232 | Location: Rühn, Germany

Freiburg Charterhouse

Freiburg Charterhouse is a former Carthusian monastery founded in 1345 or 1346 by Johannes Schnewlin, knight, Bürgermeister of Freiburg. It was dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, in honour of the Grande Chartreuse near Grenoble. In the early 16th century, the premises were extended by the addition of the refectory and the church, which was constructed in the Late Gothic style with ribbed vaulting and flying buttres ...
Founded: 1345 | Location: Freiburg, Germany

Heggbach Abbey

Heggbach Abbey was a Cistercian nunnery founded in 1231 Beguines from nearby Maselheim, close to a church whose dedication to Saint Pancras suggests may have been a proprietary church of the Counts of Berg. This church was supervised by Salem Abbey. The following year, the small convent at Heggbach was also put under the supervision of Salem Abbey. Between 1233 and 1244 Hekebach was incorporated into the Cistercian order ...
Founded: 1231 | Location: Maselheim, Germany

Kellenried Abbey

Kellenried Abbey is a Benedictine monastery of women founded by the Beuronese Congregation in 1924. The first nuns came from St. Gabriel's Abbey, Bertholdstein. The abbey was named after St. Erentraud of Salzburg, first Abbess of Nonnberg Abbey in Salzburg. The abbey church was built in 1923–24 in the Baroque Revival style by Adolf J. Lorenz. In 1926 the monastery was raised to the status of an abbey. In 1940 the nuns ...
Founded: 1924 | Location: Kellenried, Germany

Kirchschletten Monastery

First mentioned in 1143, the Kirchschletten Monastery started as a feudal farm and belonged to the aristocracy until 1856. It became part of the monastery Niederalteich in 1917. There is an organic farm, a guest house and a candle manufacture on the grounds of the monastery.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Kirchschletten, Germany

Edelstetten Abbey

Edelstetten monastery, dedicated to Saints John the Baptist and St. Paul was founded in 1126. According to the tradition the founder and first abbess was Mechthild an Augustinian choir woman. Mechthild of Dießen arrived in 1153 and was appointed abbess by the Bishop of Edelstetten to reform the pin. However, after six years, she returned unsuccessful back there. In 1460, the monastery was incorporated into the Margr ...
Founded: 1126 | Location: Edelstetten, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Wawel Castle

Wawel Hill – a Jurassic limestone rock, a dominant feature in the landscape of Kraków, have provided a safe haven for people who have settled here since the Paleolithic Age. It is supposed that the Slav people started living on Wawel hill as early as the 7th century. Early medieval legends tell stories about a dreadful dragon that lived in a cave on Wawel Hill, about his slayer Krakus, and about the latter’s daughter Wanda, who drowned herself in the Vistula rather than marry a German knight. Towards the end of the first millennium A.D Wawel began to play the role of the centre of political power.In the 9th century it became the principal fortified castrum of the Vislane tribe. The first historical ruler of Poland, Miesco I (c.965-992) of the Piast dynasty as well as his successors: Boleslas the Brave (992-1025) and Miesco II (1025-1034) chose Wawel Hill as one of their residences.

At that time Wawel became one of the main Polish centres of Christianity. The first early Romanesque and Romanesque sacral buildings were raised here, including a stone cathedral that was erected after the bishopric of Kraków was established in the year 1000.

During the reign of Casimir the Restorer (1034-1058) Wawel became a significant political and administrative centre for the Polish State. Casimir’s son, Boleslas the Bold (1058-1079) began the construction of a second Romanesque cathedral, which was finished by Boleslas the Wrymouth (1102-1138). In his last will of 1138, this prince divided Poland into districts, and provided that Kraków was to be the residence of the senior prince. In 1291 the city of Kraków along with Wawel Hill temporarily fell under the Czech rule, and Wenceslas II from the Premysl dynasty was crowned King of Poland in Wawel cathedral.

In 1306 the Duke of Kuyavia Ladislas the Short (1306-1333) entered Wawel and was crowned King of Poland in the Cathedral in 1320. It was the first historically recorded coronation of a Polish ruler on Wawel Hill. Around that time, at the initiative of Ladislas the Short, the construction of the third Gothic cathedral began, the castle was expanded and the old wooden and earthen fortifications were replaced by brick ones. The tomb of Ladislas the Short in the cathedral started a royal necropolis of Polish kings in Krakow.The last descendant of the Piast dynasty, Casimir the Great (1333-1370) brought Wawel to a state of unprecedented splendour. In 1364 the expanded gothic castle witnessed the marriage of Casimir’s granddaughter Elizabeth to Charles IV accompanied by a famous convention of kings and princes, subsequently entertained by a rich burgher Wierzynek. The accession to the throne in 1385 of Jadwiga from the Hungarian dynasty of Andegavens, and her marriage to a Lithuanian prince Ladislas Jagiello (1386-1434) started another era of prosperity for Wawel. The royal court employed local and western European artists and also Rus painters. During the reign of Casimir Jagiellon (1447-1492) the silhouette of the hill was enriched by three high brick towers: the Thieves’ Tower, the Sandomierz Tower and the Senatorial Tower. The first humanists in Poland and tutors to the king’s sons: historian Jan Długosz and an Italian by the name Filippo Buonacorsi (also known as Callimachus) worked there at that time.

The Italian Renaissance arrived at Wawel in the early 16th century. King Alexander (1501-1506) and his brother Sigismund I the Old (1506-1548) commissioned the construction of a new palace in place of the Gothic residence, with an impressive large courtyard with arcaded galleries which was completed about 1540. Sigismund’s patronage also left an indelible impression in the cathedral, where a family chapel was erected, known today as Sigismund’s Chapel - the work of Bartolomeo of Berrecci Florence, and through various foundations, one of which was that of a large bell, called the Sigismund to commemorate the king. Close artistic and cultural relations with Italy were strengthened in 1518 by the king’s marriage to Bona Sforza. Alongside Italian artists, German architects, wood workers, painters and metal smiths worked for the king. The last descendant of the Jagiellonian dynasty, Sigismund II Augustus (1548-1572), enriched the castle’s interiors with a magnificent collection of tapestries woven in Brussels. In the “Golden Age” of Polish culture Wawel became one of the main centres of humanism in Europe.

The reign of Sigismund III Waza (1587-1632) also made a strong impression on the history of Wawel. After a fire in the castle in 1595 the king rebuilt the burned wing of the building in the early Baroque style. The relocation of the royal court to Warsaw was the cause of a slow but nevertheless steady deterioration in the castle’s condition. The monarchs visited Kraków only occasionally. Restoration of the castle was undertaken during the reign of John III Sobieski, the Wettins and Stanislas Augustus to counteract neglect.

After Poland had lost its independence in 1795, the troops of partitioning nations, Russia, Prussia and Austria, subsequently occupied Wawel which finally passed into the hands of the Austrians. The new owners converted the castle and some of the secular buildings into a military hospital, and demolished some others, including churches. After the period of the Free City of Kraków (1815-1846) Wawel was once more annexed by Austria and turned into a citadel dominating the city. By the resolution passed by the Seym of Galicia in 1880, the castle was presented as a residence to the Emperor of Austria Franz Josef I. The Austrian troops left the hill between 1905-1911. At the turn of the 20th century a thorough restoration of the cathedral was conducted, and shortly afterwards a process of restoration of the royal castle began which lasted several decades.

When Poland regained its independence in 1918, the castle served as an official residence of the Head of State, and as a museum of historic interiors. During the Nazi occupation the castle was the residence of the German governor general, Hans Frank. Polish people managed to remove the most valuable objects, including the tapestries and the “Szczerbiec” coronation sword to Canada, from where they returned as late as 1959-1961. At present, the main curators of Wawel are Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collection and the Metropolitan Basilica Board on Wawel Hill.