All Saints Abbey Ruins

Oppenau, Germany

All Saints' Abbey (Kloster Allerheiligen) was a Premonstratensian monastery founded around 1192 when a wooden chapel was built, which was gradually extended to be a monastery. In 1196 the foundation charter was issued by Duchess Uta of Schauenburg. In 1200 Philip of Swabia recognised the foundation, and in 1204 Pope Innocent III confirmed it. The first abbot was Gerung.

In 1248 canons from All Saints were sent to Lorsch Abbey to turn it into a Premonstratensian monastery, since when Lorsch was counted as a daughter house of All Saints. Another daughter house was set up at Haguenau. Through various gifts and livings, inter alia at Oberkirch and Oppenau, the monastery grew rapidly and became one of the major religious, cultural and political centres of the region.

In 1657 it was raised to the status of 'abbey' by the general chapter of the Premonstratensian Order. In the 18th century it was at the high point of its power. In November 1802 however Margrave Karl Friedrich of Baden dissolved the abbey in the course of secularisation, and took all its possessions.

Large fires, in 1470 and 1555, had already destroyed parts of the premises. In 1804, a last fire, started when a bolt of lightning struck the church tower, finished the job. In 1816 the ruins were sold for demolition and used as a quarry for stone and scrap for churches in the valleys of the Rench and the Acher. The altars and saints' figures are to be found in numerous local churches, for example in Bad Peterstal, Oppenau, Ottenhöfen and Achern. Three statues from All Saints' Abbey are above the gateway of the prince's chapel at Lichtenthal Abbey, representing Saint Helena, Uta of Schauenburg and Gerung.

Not until the end of the 19th century, when tourism finally reached the Lierbach valley and its waterfalls, were any steps taken to secure what was left of the ruins, which were then put into the condition they are in today.

On a rise above the ruins of the monastery complex is a war memorial for the fallen and deceased members of the Black Forest Society (Schwarzwaldverein), raised in 1925 by C.M. Meckel und A. Rickert.

In 1947 the Charitable Union of Mainz acquired the area round about the monastery ruins and built a convalescent home for children there. Since 1978 this has been used as a country holiday centre for schools. In 1960 the Bishop of Mainz built a chapel here that, like the abbey church, is dedicated to the honour of God and All Saints.

Also now on the site are a cafe and a small museum. Below the ruins are the All Saints' Waterfalls ('Allerheiligen-Wasserfälle').



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Founded: 1192
Category: Religious sites in Germany
Historical period: Hohenstaufen Dynasty (Germany)


4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Gabriel dos Santos (2 years ago)
Beautiful ruins in the middle of the nature. There is also a museum where you can see how it looked like in the past. You must combine it with a visit to the waterfall.
Danielle Cummings (2 years ago)
Came here on a Saturday afternoon with my three kids (nearly ages 6, 4, and 2) on our way from Kaiserslautern to Triberg. We parked in the parkplatz marked in one of the photos. There were basically no spots available; we had to pull off the side of the road that became the path to the abbey. It is nesteld in a tight corner between a road in a restaurant, with less than attractive buildings and fire escapes surrounding it on one side, making picture taking difficult in some spots. The ruin itself is truly amazing - there is quite a bit left of it, and you can explore all of the ground level rooms (though you can't go up in the remaining tower). We were lucky enough to speak to some visitors who had lived there in her youth and she told us some of the history of the place, which includes poorly behaved priests who may or may not have deserved the lightning strikes that brought the abbey down. We spent about 20 minutes looking around before we felt we had seen it all, and then proceeded on to the Kiosk further down the path for a snack. We found free indoor bathrooms there that were large and clean. We were lucky with our timing - on our walk back to the car, there was a wedding going on within the abbey and visitors were no longer allowed into it. If you are unfamiliar with the area, be sure to download your GPS driving directions beforehand, as I had poor service when leaving the area. Overall, a beautiful, if slightly smaller than expected, which I wish had nicer surroundings, but nevertheless absolutely worth the 45 minutes it added onto our trip, especially with the close parking, bathrooms, and food.
Rene Pot (2 years ago)
It's lovely walking around the old Abbey. The ruins really give a good impression of the original structure, and the museum in the small village has a model of how it looked in full.
Lucy fer (2 years ago)
Nice place with a hiking trail. We went there for the waterfalls, but they are much less impressive than I thought them to be. The accommodations at the Abbey are fine, even pleasantly surprised by the quality and cleanliness of the public lavatories.
Winnie Sarah (3 years ago)
Christmas in the mountains! Wasserfalle Allerheiligen is a great place to be! And the chapel, was the cherry on top! Super relaxed with breathtaking views!
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