Dargun Abbey was originally a Cistercian monastery, converted after its dissolution into a palace. The monastery was founded here in 1172 on the site of a former heathen temple after the conquest of the region by Christian forces in 1164. The founding community came from Esrum Abbey in Denmark. The monastery was destroyed in 1198, and the monks left, later to found another monastery at Eldena. Dargun was re-established in 1208 by monks from Doberan Abbey, which is therefore counted as its mother house.
It was secularised in 1552 and taken over as a residence by Duke Ulrich I of Mecklenburg-Güstrow in 1556, who converted it into a Renaissance palace, which, after the extinction of the line of Mecklenburg-Güstrow, passed to the Dukes of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.
The monastery was brick-built. The principal building complex was reconstructed in the 14th century. The Gothic abbey church was built between 1225 and 1270, with further work to the choir in 1464. The church is now ruined but parts of the choir, nave and transept remain.
In 1637 the palace burnt down and was rebuilt until 1654. Until the mid-18th century it served as the home of the widows of the princely house of Mecklenburg-Güstrow. It was re-converted in the 19th century under Georg Adolf Demmler, and burnt down at the end of World War II. Little was done to secure the ruins until 1991. From 1994 some reconstruction and repair has taken place. The buildings presently accommodate an information bureau and the town library.References:
Augustusburg Palace represents one of the first examples of Rococo creations in Germany. For the Cologne elector and archbishop Clemens August of the House of Wittelsbach it was the favourite residence. In 1725 the Westphalian architect Johann Conrad Schlaun was commissioned by Clemens August to begin the construction of the palace on the ruins of a medieval moated castle.
In 1728, the Bavarian court architect François de Cuvilliés took over and made the palace into one of the most glorious residences of its time. Until its completion in 1768, numerous outstanding artists of European renown contributed to its beauty. A prime example of the calibre of artists employed here is Balthasar Neumann, who created the design for the magnificent staircase, an enchanting creation full of dynamism and elegance. The magical interplay of architecture, sculpture, painting and garden design made the Brühl Palaces a masterpiece of German Rococo.
UNESCO honoured history and present of the Rococo Palaces by inscribing Augustusburg Palace – together with Falkenlust Palace and their extensive gardens – on the World Heritage List in 1984. From 1949 onwards, Augustusburg Palace was used for representative purposes by the German Federal President and the Federal Government for many decades.
In 1728, Dominique Girard designed the palace gardens according to French models. Owing to constant renovation and care, it is today one of the most authentic examples of 18th century garden design in Europe. Next to the Baroque gardens, Peter Joseph Lenné redesigned the forested areas based on English landscaping models. Today it is a wonderful place to have a walk.