Altzella Abbey

Nossen, Germany

In 1162 Emperor Frederick I acquired cleared land from a monastery founded by Otto II, Margrave of Meissen, some of which was exchanged after the discovery of silver in 1168. In the following years, in accordance with the wishes of the founder, Hedwig of Brandenburg, wife of Otto of Meissen, the Cistercian Order undertook the establishment of an abbey on this land, into which in 1175 the first abbot with a community of twelve monks moved from Pforta Abbey (near Naumburg). The new foundation was known as Cella or Zelle Abbey. Construction of the abbey church began at this time. An intense period of construction is evidenced between 1180 and 1230, when the conventual buildings and the Romanesque portal were built. The church was dedicated in 1198, a Brick Gothic building with three aisles and a transept. The west front shows Northern Italian influences.

In 1217 supervision of the Abbey of the Holy Cross in Meissen, a Benedictine nunnery, was entrusted to the abbot of Zelle. In 1268 the abbey founded a daughter house near Guben, Neuzelle Abbey, after which the name Cella VetusAltzelle or Altzella gradually came into use to distinguish the older house.

As early as 1190, when Otto of Meissen died and was entombed here, the abbey served as the burial place of the Wettins, for which purpose the St Andrew's Chapel was later built, between 1339 and 1349. Both Frederick II, Margrave of Meissen, and his son Frederick III were buried there.

Under the abbots Vinzenz von Gruner and the humanist Martin von Lochau (abbot 1501-1522) the abbey enjoyed its most flourishing period. In 1436 the abbey bought Nossen Castle (Schloss Nossen) with contents and appurtenances for 4,200 Gulden. The castle itself was in poor condition and was restructured to serve as the abbot's residence. The upper storey of the lay brothers' building was converted into a library in 1506.

In 1540 Henry IV, Duke of Saxony, ordered the secularisation of the abbey. Under Augustus, Elector of Saxony, and no later than 1557, large parts of the buildings, which were in poor condition, were demolished and the materials reused elsewhere. Only the lay brothers' building remained, later used for storing grain. Between 1676 and 1787 the Electors of Saxony disinterred the remains of their ancestors and had them re-buried in a memorial chapel, the present-day Mausoleum. In about 1800 a Romantically landscaped park was established to form a picturesque setting for the building and the surrounding ruins.



Your name


Founded: 1162-1230
Category: Religious sites in Germany
Historical period: Hohenstaufen Dynasty (Germany)

More Information


4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Iris Wolf (5 months ago)
K K (10 months ago)
Lovely park to stroll under the shades of trees. After the walk a small cafe provides some refreshments and cake.
Emmie Rose (2 years ago)
Oh what a beautiful place. We sat in the gardens and enjoyed a picnic. Very spiritual place
Ama Aza (2 years ago)
A lovely walk through the medieval times.
Tsung-Jen Pu (3 years ago)
It's really a nice place for relaxing.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Monte d'Accoddi

Monte d"Accoddi is a Neolithic archaeological site in northern Sardinia, located in the territory of Sassari. The site consists of a massive raised stone platform thought to have been an altar. It was constructed by the Ozieri culture or earlier, with the oldest parts dated to around 4,000–3,650 BC.

The site was discovered in 1954 in a field owned by the Segni family. No chambers or entrances to the mound have been found, leading to the presumption it was an altar, a temple or a step pyramid. It may have also served an observational function, as its square plan is coordinated with the cardinal points of the compass.

The initial Ozieri structure was abandoned or destroyed around 3000 BC, with traces of fire found in the archeological evidence. Around 2800 BC the remains of the original structure were completely covered with a layered mixture of earth and stone, and large blocks of limestone were then applied to establish a second platform, truncated by a step pyramid (36 m × 29 m, about 10 m in height), accessible by means of a second ramp, 42 m long, built over the older one. This second temple resembles contemporary Mesopotamian ziggurats, and is attributed to the Abealzu-Filigosa culture.

Archeological excavations from the chalcolithic Abealzu-Filigosa layers indicate the Monte d"Accoddi was used for animal sacrifice, with the remains of sheep, cattle, and swine recovered in near equal proportions. It is among the earliest known sacrificial sites in Western Europe.

The site appears to have been abandoned again around 1800 BC, at the onset of the Nuragic age.

The monument was partially reconstructed during the 1980s. It is open to the public and accessible by the old route of SS131 highway, near the hamlet of Ottava. It is 14,9 km from Sassari and 45 km from Alghero. There is no public transportation to the site. The opening times vary throughout the year.