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
See all sites in Hirsau


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


4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Anna Fedorchenko (20 months ago)
Dan Houlden (20 months ago)
Really good friendly service and great restaurant for breakfast and dinner.
J S (21 months ago)
We went for a Saturday to Sunday mini trip. Unfortunately, Hotel Hirsau was not suitable. We arrived after 8pm and just made it to the restaurant who were already in a hurry to close. We wanted to use the pool/sauna but couldn't. In the evening on Saturday they were already closed and then we were told that hotel services are not offered after checkout at 11am on Sunday plus the sauna is not on until 2pm. So that didn't work either. This made it impossible for us to use the facilities :-( If you like a relaxed weekend morning, you also won't make it to the breakfast which closes at 10am. This timetable of this hotel is for business but not suited for a leisure weekend visit.
Ray Weinmann (2 years ago)
Great location, friendly and helpful staff, excellent restaurant..
Brendan Keeley (2 years ago)
Love this hotel! I am a musician. I joked in the gig last night that the mini bar only had water! The owners were in the gig and left beautiful wine in my room.. Thank you so much! Lovely people. Beautiful Hotel!! Well worth a visit.
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