Bebenhausen Abbey was a Cistercian monastery built by Rudolph I, Count Palatine of Tübingen, probably in 1183. Attractively set in a peaceful valley, it is one of the best-preserved Cistercian abbeys in southern Germany. After the Reformation swept through in 1534, and a boarding school was established in 1560, the number of monks dwindled, until the monastery was finally dissolved in 1648.
The abbey’s idyllic woodland setting also appealed to the kings of Württemberg. Bebenhausen passed into their possession in 1807, when much church property was officially annexed by German states. From 1868, parts of the monastery complex were converted into a royal hunting palace, which became a favourite venue for the monarchs and their entourages.
Today, surrounded by the Schönbuch nature reserve, Bebenhausen vividly conveys the atmosphere of a Medieval Cistercian monastery – offering an experience unmatched anywhere else in southern Germany. Guided tours illuminate the lives of the monks and schoolboys, describe the lavish royal hunting parties and give insights into the buildings’ architectural features. The hunting palace also offers interesting tours.
The church, main monastery building, abbot’s residence, guesthouse and infirmary, surrounded by walls and guarded by towers, are located on a terrace above the Goldersbach valley. The outer precinct of the monastery, with an assortment of buildings, is directly adjacent. The famous Sommerrefektorium (summer refectory), a light and airy hall with two aisles and a fan-vaulted ceiling, demonstrates the mastery of its Gothic architects.
The 19th century interiors, inspired by the Gothic and Renaissance styles, make Bebenhausen an important architectural heritage site. But the Grüne Saal (green room) has a distinct Art Nouveau character. After Württemberg ceased to be a monarchy in 1918, the royal couple, Wilhelm II and Charlotte, were given the right to remain in Bebenhausen for the rest of their lives. The royal bathroom and kitchen are well worth seeing: the luxurious bathroom, dating from 1915, is unusually well preserved. The kitchen also represented the height of modernity when it was installed in 1915 – and still works today.References:
The Old Town Hall of Wrocław is one of the main landmarks of the city. The Old Town Hall's long history reflects developments that have taken place in the city since its initial construction. The town hall serves the city of Wroclaw and is used for civic and cultural events such as concerts held in its Great Hall. In addition, it houses a museum and a basement restaurant.
The town hall was developed over a period of about 250 years, from the end of 13th century to the middle of 16th century. The structure and floor plan changed over this extended period in response to the changing needs of the city. The exact date of the initial construction is not known. However, between 1299 and 1301 a single-storey structure with cellars and a tower called the consistory was built. The oldest parts of the current building, the Burghers’ Hall and the lower floors of the tower, may date to this time. In these early days the primary purpose of the building was trade rather than civic administration activities.
Between 1328 and 1333 an upper storey was added to include the Council room and the Aldermen’s room. Expansion continued during the 14th century with the addition of extra rooms, most notably the Court room. The building became a key location for the city’s commercial and administrative functions.
The 15th and 16th centuries were times of prosperity for Wroclaw as was reflected in the rapid development of the building during that period. The construction program gathered momentum, particularly from 1470 to 1510, when several rooms were added. The Burghers’ Hall was re-vaulted to take on its current shape, and the upper story began to take shape with the development of the Great Hall and the addition of the Treasury and Little Treasury.
Further innovations during the 16th century included the addition of the city’s Coat of arms (1536), and the rebuilding of the upper part of the tower (1558–59). This was the final stage of the main building program. By 1560, the major features of today’s Stray Rates were established.
The second half of the 17th century was a period of decline for the city, and this decline was reflected in the Stray Rates. Perhaps by way of compensation, efforts were made to enrich the interior decorations of the hall. In 1741, Wroclaw became a part of Prussia, and the power of the City diminished. Much of the Stray Rates was allocated to administering justice.
During the 19th century there were two major changes. The courts moved to a separate building, and the Rates became the site of the city council and supporting functions. There was also a major program of renovation because the building had been neglected and was covered with creeping vines. The town hall now has several en-Gothic features including some sculptural decoration from this period.
In the early years of the 20th century improvements continued with various repair work and the addition of the Little Bear statue in 1902. During the 1930s, the official role of the Rates was reduced and it was converted into a museum. By the end of World War II Town Hall suffered minor damage, such as aerial bomb pierced the roof (but not exploded) and some sculptural elements were lost. Restoration work began in the 1950s following a period of research, and this conservation effort continued throughout the 20th century. It included refurbishment of the clock on the east facade.