Mont Sainte-Odile Abbey

Ottrott, France

Mont Sainte-Odile Abbey, also known as Hohenburg Abbey, is a nunnery, situated on Mont Sainte-Odile, one of the most famous peaks of the Vosges mountain range in the French region of Alsace.

It was founded about 690 by Adalrich, Duke of Alsace for his daughter, Odile, who was its first abbess. Saint Eugénie d'Alsace (died 735) was its second abbess. On the eastern slope of the Mont Sainte-Odile the first abbess built a hospice called Niedermünster or Nieder-Hohenburg, which afterwards became a house for ladies of nobility until it was destroyed by lightning in 1572.

Originally Hohenburg seems to have been occupied by Benedictine nuns who were replaced by canonesses in the 11th century. Devastated by fire several times, the abbey church was rebuilt in 1050 and consecrated by Pope Leo IX. When in the first half of the 12th century the monastery began to decline, its discipline was restored by Abbess Relindis of Bergen near Neuburg an der Donau, who became abbess of Hohenburg in about 1140. During her rule Hohenburg became famous for its strict discipline as well as the great learning of its nuns.

She was succeeded in 1167 by Herrade of Landsberg, under whose rule the fame of Hohenburg continued to increase. One noteworthy tradition of the abbey is the production of unicorn images; illustrations of unicorn hunts were particular to female orders.

Hohenburg Abbey was destroyed by fire in 1546. Some of the nuns returned to their parents, others became Protestants and married. In 1661, Hohenburg was rebuilt and occupied by Premonstratensians. During the French Revolution it was confiscated by the government and sold as national property in 1791.

Secret passage

Between August 2000 and May 2002 more than 1,000 ancient books went missing from the monastery library. Stanislas Gosse, a book collector, stole the books after finding an old map showing a secret entrance into the library. The route was not easy, however, involving climbing up exterior walls, a steep staircase and a secret chamber. A mechanism then opened the back of one of five cupboards. The disappearance of so many books over such a length of time confused the librarian, the monks and the police, with Gosse finally being caught by closed-circuit television cameras.


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Ottrott, France
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Founded: 690 AD
Category: Religious sites in France
Historical period: Frankish kingdoms (France)


4.1/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

M Wilson (3 years ago)
Avoid at all costs getting coffee at the kiosk outside (where the ATM is located.) It is the most terrible tasting and the cups lack structural integrity, so after a few sips the cup collapsed on itself soaking me. When I pointed this out to the server, he did, to his credit, immediately offer a towel and also another cup of coffee on the house. This is the first free cup of coffee I have ever declined.
monica pronzini (4 years ago)
Restaurant- bar is self-service. Beautiful outdoor tables.
Gjerulf Noddeland (4 years ago)
Restaurant review only. Food was good, but for probably the first time in my life, we left before desserts we had ordered arrived. Service was simply taking too long, and it was impossible to keep the kids entertained as each course seemed to take forever to arrive. Would strongly discourage diners with children. Five stars for location (it really is worth 6), three for the locale (it was stiflingly hot) four for the food (never got to taste the desserts) and 1 for the service (we didn't have to pay for the desserts we never got, which prevents it from being 0)
Melanie Raguenaud (5 years ago)
Too basic, not even a hairdryer in the room, I had to request one and leave a deposit. No WiFi the whole trip so without a TV it was brutal. We were chided by the receptionist that it's a place for contemplation, I'm sure all the business conferences aren't looking for spiritual clarity when they are there. The location may be stunning but as a working hotel I was left very, very unimpressed.
JATIN Jadhav (8 years ago)
Fantastic view from top, fresh air if traveled in June-July. We had parked our cars 1-2 km away from top and walked towards restaurant on top.
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