Kloster Eberbach was founded in 1136 by Bernard of Clairvaux as the first Cistercian monastery on the east bank of the Rhine, on the site of a previous monastic foundation of Adalbert of Mainz, which had been occupied at first by Augustinian canons and then by Benedictine monks, which had however failed to establish itself.

Eberbach soon became one of the largest and most active monasteries of Germany. At its height in the 12th and 13th centuries, the population is estimated to have been about 100 monks and over 200 lay brothers.

Eberbach Abbey was also very successful economically, principally as a result of profits from the cultivation of vineyards and the production of wine. At least 14 members of the family of the Counts of Katzenelnbogen were buried in the church. Among them was Count Johann IV of Katzenelnbogen, who was the first to plant Riesling vines, in a new vineyard in the nearby village of Rüsselsheim, when the monks of Eberbach were still growing red grapes such as Grobrot, the earliest grape variety recorded in Eberbach.

The abbey suffered severe damage during the Thirty Years' War, beginning with the attack of the Swedish army in 1631. Many valuable items from the church and the library were looted, and the monks were forced to flee, of whom only 20 returned in 1635 to begin a laborious reconstruction.

The 18th century however was a period of great economic success: surviving accounts show that the abbey profits were regularly invested on the Frankfurt money market. The final decline set in with the French Revolution. After the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss the abbey was dissolved on 18 September 1803 and with its assets and territory became the property of Prince Friedrich Augustus of Nassau-Usingen.

The lands passed from Nassau-Usingen in 1866 to Prussia, and from 1945 have formed part of the State of Hesse. The premises were put to a variety of uses. A lunatic asylum was accommodated here until 1873 (the forerunner of the Zentrum für Soziale Psychiatrie Rheinblick) and until 1912 a prison. Management of the vineyards and wine production has continued in state hands. After considerable structural work Eberbach serves inter alia as a venue of international importance for cultural events and displays, and as a film location, as for example for Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose (1985).

The buildings form one of the most impressive monastic sites in Germany, preserving structures of the highest quality from the Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque periods. A list of goods, the 'Oculus Memoriae', survives from as early as the year 1211, giving information on the possessions and premises of the abbey complex. The abbey church is a three-aisled Romanesque basilica with transept, containing the tombs of some of the Archbishops of Mainz.

On the night of 26 April 2005 the abbey suffered severe damage from flooding. This was due to heavy rain, which caused the Kisselbach river to overflow its banks, and the increased volume of water brought about the collapse of the 18th century storm drain under the abbey.

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Details

Founded: 1136
Category: Religious sites in Germany
Historical period: Hohenstaufen Dynasty (Germany)

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User Reviews

Torbjörn Wemmenhög (9 months ago)
I don't think too much could be said about this place; it is rather remarkable. If you're into central European history in any sense, this is absolutely worth a visit, given the huge importance this place have had for hundreds of years. Everything is very well kept and accessible for either taking a self-guided tour or just strolling and contemplating. It's an entire vacation in itself! It should perhaps be noted here that the audio-guided tour left some things to be desired: besides being a little confusing to navigate, there was an entire section (the old hospital) missing or being unavailable for some reason. That was, however, the only real complaint we could make.
Dave Pearson (12 months ago)
I can really recommend you to visit during a weekday. Other day’s it is no fun with all the other visitors. There’s a lot to see from this historic site, have you seen the film called THE NAME OF THE ROSE ? with Sean Connery? It was filmed here! There is a hotel and a restaurant here too and some lovely walk’s the staff whom I met where very helpful and knowledgeable. ??
chris mav (16 months ago)
Really nice winery, surrounded by grape fields and forest. 14€ for the tour is an ok amount, due to the architecture of the monastery. Best period to visit is around July
Praveen Mark (2 years ago)
This is a former monastery , now a Vineyard. Area is full of beautiful grape creepers. They are yellowish in color. There is church ⛪ and a hotel in the same premises. There are special events for kids. The day I went here , the place was full of kids with parents. I ❤ love the calmness of the monastery.
Pavel D. (2 years ago)
I have lived in the region for four years and so far this splendid abbey has escaped my attention. I visited as part of team building activities where we had arranged an evening program including dinner. I did not visit the abbey itself, but rather explored the well maintained gardens and surroundings. After the first round of team activity we walked to the abbey's vineyard, which is located less than 5 minute walk away, through deep forest and steep paths, therefore proper shoes are necessary. The interesting thing about the vineyard is that its surrounded by the wall and from the top there is a really beautiful view of the Rhine Valley and surrounding towns and vineyards. We were lucky with the weather and had almost absolutely ideal photographic conditions. Part of our visit was wine tasting, which took place in the abbey's hospital that was converted into a wine cellar. The room was very dark, only lit by candles, so it took me a couple minutes to adjust my eyes. There was no place to sit, but during wine tasting it does not really matter as I engaged with colleagues. While we tasted 3 different kinds of Riesling, our tour guide explained the history of the abbey and its wine production tradition. She was a great talker, entertaining and intriguing story teller. Generally I have trouble keeping my attention on a tour such as this, but it was very educational and inspiring. Last part of the evening we spent in a local restaurant right behind the Abbey. Very modern, up-class place with modern and welcoming interior. Small outside seating area located behind the main building, however due to weather condition was closed during our visit. As we were large group, we pre-ordered the food including starters. The charcuterie board looked amazing and tasted even better! The variety of food on the platter was shocking as we had pickled vegetables such as radish or pumpkin, many kinds of cheeses, hams, sausages dried tomatoes, pork greaves stocks and pates. As a main course I had lamb knee which was exceptional! Very tender, juicy, well seasoned, accompanied with mashed potatoes and tomatoes. I really enjoyed myself and cant really fault anything with regards to the food. As for drinks, we had the same wine as during our wine tasting. It was not the best Riesling in the region, but very decent and refreshing nevertheless. Visited in May 2022.
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