The Clarissa (Poor Clares) order nunnery in Ribnitz was one of the last nunnerys or monasteries to be founded in the dutchy of Mecklenburg. In 1323, Duke Heinrich II von Mecklenburg bequeathed to the Franciscans his court stronghold in the southeast of the town of Ribnitz. The first four nuns arrived from the Clarissa nunnery in the Westphalian town of Weißenfels. In 1330, the nunnery is consecrated, while today's church facility was begun in 1361, and was consecrated in 1393.
The church is a broad, vaulted Brick Gothic hall composed of six narrow right angled bays supported by inwards-facing support pillars lacking a fixed ambulatory. The church is flanked at its east and west gables by a small tower. In the east of the nave, a wooden gallery for the nuns remains today, having preserved much of its original form, most notably nuns' stalls installed ca. 1400.
The nunnery church is the last remaining building of the late medieval nunnery site still remaining largely intact in tis original form. Its interior was rebuilt in 1840 in a neo-Gothic style.
During the Reformation Ribnitz Abbey was turned into an aristocratic convent. The transfer of the contents of the convent to the Duke and the devestating consequences of the 30 Years' War led to the collapse of the convent.
In 2006, restoration work on the former forewoman's house was completed. Today, the Ribnitz-Damgarten German Museum of Amber is housed in this and adjoining buildings. During restoration work the remains of the north wall of the dormitory where discovered, which have now been excavated and can be seen by visitors. The convent houses are today in demand apartments; the presence of the Museum, the town library, the Nunnery Gallery and the town archive have converted the nunnery site into a cultural centre of the town.
The nunnery still houses a number of outstanding wooden icons, the so-called 'Ribnitz Madonnas'. The figures were originally part of the nunnery church's altars, and were made over several centuries, from the start of the 14th century through to the first half of the 16th. They are of outstanding quality, having largely preserved their authentic original colour scheme.References:
The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.
The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.
The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.
The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.
Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.
At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.
In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.