Hirsau Abbey

Hirsau, Germany

Hirsau Abbey was once one of the most important Benedictine abbeys of Germany. In the 11th and 12th century, the monastery was a centre of the Cluniac Reforms, implemented as 'Hirsau Reforms' in the German lands. The complex was devastated during the War of the Palatine Succession in 1692 and not rebuilt.

A Christian chapel at Hirsau dedicated to Saint Nazarius had already been erected in the late 8th century. The monastery itself was founded in about 830 by the Rhenish Franconian count Erlafried of Calw at the instigation of his relative, Bishop Notting of Vercelli, who gave it the relics of Saint Aurelius of Riditio, an Armenian bishop who had died about 475, brought from Milan among other treasures; they were first placed in the oratory of St. Nazarius' Chapel, while the monastery at Hirschau was being built on the count's estates. A first aisleless church, dedicated to Saint Aurelius, was not completed until 838, when it was consecrated by Archbishop Odgar of Mainz, who at the same time translated the relics from their temporary resting place to the new church.

In the 11th century, under Abbot Wilhelm, Hirsau Monastery was part of the Cluny reform movement. From here, the reforms, which emphasised the independence of the Church, spread across much of southwestern Germany. As a loyal supporter of the Pope, Hirsau played an active role in the Investiture Controversy, a power struggle between the Church and European monarchies.

After the Reformation, the former monastery became a Protestant boarding school. In the late 16th century, a Renaissance-style hunting lodge was constructed for the dukes of Württemberg. A grand structure with three wings, the palace abutted onto the enclosed grounds of the monastery, on the site of the former abbot’s residence.

In 1692, while occupied by French soldiers, the palace and monastery was destroyed by fire. In the aftermath, local residents plundered the remains in search of building materials, partly for the reconstruction of the town of Calw, which had been damaged in the war.

Today, the former monastery complex is a beautiful but atmospheric place, with the striking Romanesque and Gothic ruins set against the scenic backdrop of the Black Forest. Rising above the landscape, the 37- metre high Eulenturm (owls’ tower) features a frieze of mysterious figures. The late Gothic Marienkirche (church of St Mary) and an assortment of monastic buildings offer a glimpse into everyday life at an abbey that was once one of the most influential spiritual and economic centres of the region.



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Klosterhof 9, Hirsau, Germany
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Founded: 830 AD
Category: Religious sites in Germany
Historical period: Part of The Frankish Empire (Germany)


4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Laura Norris (13 months ago)
My company hosted training at the hotel and it was a wonderful experience. The conference room was spacious. The food was very good and the service excellent. The rooms are a little older but fit into the area. I highly recommend this hotel.
Becky Timm (13 months ago)
We loved our stay at Hotel Kloster Hirsau! Victoria, who checked us in, was so friendly and helpful. We loved our room. We noticed in one review it said the rooms needed updating. We totally disagree! Our room was perfectly clean, and the older style, we feel, kept with the antiquity of the little town. It felt like we had stepped back in time, but the beds were obviously newer, as were the bathrooms. So it was new where you would want it to be, but with the older style, which we thought was perfect! It is in a good location, close to the main town square, but we did drive most places. We did have the breakfast buffet one morning, and it was a decent buffet with both hot and cold items and different breads. If we ever get back to Calw, we will stay here!
Iroshini Perera (3 years ago)
Friendly service, great food, spacious and clean rooms. One of the best breakfast buffets we have enjoyed since covid regulations started. We would visit again.
Warner Hoving (5 years ago)
Empfang was bad. They put 2 persons in the smallest available room (number 115! Please reject it). Later they upgraded is to a normal room. But still, hospitality was bad. Not what you can excpat for a fullprice fare. Hotel itself is a bit outdated, eighties. No aircon, its well maintained and clean. But could do some upgrading.
Berend uit Zuidlaren (5 years ago)
Compared to other establishments in the surrounding area moderately expensive for drinks. But the nice ambiance and friendly staff make well up for this. Would not recommend for single drinks, but for a good meal this is definitely the place.
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