Monastic Island of Reichenau

Insel Reichenau, Germany

The island of Reichenau on Lake Constance preserves the traces of the Benedictine monastery, founded in 724, which exercised remarkable spiritual, intellectual and artistic influence. The churches of St Mary and Marcus, St Peter and St Paul, and St George, mainly built between the 9th and 11th centuries, provide a panorama of early medieval monastic architecture in central Europe. Their wall paintings bear witness to impressive artistic activity.

The Monastery of Reichenau was a highly significant artistic centre of great significance to the history of art in Europe in the 10th and 11th centuries, as is superbly illustrated by its monumental wall paintings and its illuminations. The churches retain remarkable elements of several stages of construction and thus offer outstanding examples of monastic architecture in Central Europe from the 9th to the 11th centuries.

For over 1,000 years the history of the island of Reichenau, which lies in the northern reaches of Lake Constance, was closely intertwined with that of the monastery. The first Abbot, Pirmin, was given the task of building a monastery in honour of the Virgin Mary and Saints Peter and Paul. He oversaw the building of the first abbey, a wooden building, at Mittelzell on the northern shore of the island, as well as a three-winged cloister against the north side of the church. The whole building was gradually rebuilt in stone by 746. The monastery received generous endowments of land, and the island, an integral part of the abbey lands, was given over to agriculture. The monastery became a famous centre for teaching and creativity in literature, science, and the arts. The church was consecrated in 1048, in the presence of Emperor Henry III.At the western end of the island of Reichenau, Egino, a former Bishop of Verona, built the first church of St Peter at Niederzell, consecrated in 799. The church was twice rebuilt and slightly altered in the 9th-10th centuries. The monastery buildings lay to the north, near the lake. In the late 11th and early 12th centuries the church was rebuilt and its two east towers were completed in the 15th century. Now dedicated to St Peter and St Paul, it became a parish church and was decorated in Rococo style in the 18th century. Abbot Heito III built the church of St George at Oberzell in the eastern part of the island in honour of the relic of the saint's head, which he brought back from a voyage to Rome in 896, the year of the church's consecration.

The former abbey of St Mary at Mittelzell features three aisles and opposed transepts. It retains its rectangular west tower, flanked by narrow porches and the broad west transept dating from the mid-11th century. Beneath this high tower lies the apse, in front of which stands the altar. The 12th-century nave with its wooden roof opens out into the east transept whose crossing is defined by four identical broad arches and the liturgical choir of the church dedicated in 816, the oldest parts of the church. The Flamboyant Gothic choir is flanked by a sacristy and treasury. The monastery built in the 17th century on the southern side of the church now houses the town hall and the presbytery.

The church of St Peter and St Paul at Niederzell is a Romanesque structure of three aisles culminating at the eastern end in three hemispherical apses concealed within a central block and flanked by two impressive bell towers. The central apse retains fine wall paintings from 1104-34 laid out in three rows. A figure of Christ in Majesty in a mandorla is surrounded by symbols of the Evangelists, the patron saints of the church, and cherubim. Above stands a row of Apostles and another of the Prophets. Other fragments of 12th-century wall paintings survive, particularly in the north chapel where they represent the Passion Cycle.In the church of St George at Oberzell a two-storey porch and a western apse dating from the early Romanesque period lead into the Carolingian church consisting of three aisles and a west choir of complex structure topped by a tower. The walls of the nave are decorated with remarkable early medieval wall paintings depicting the miracles of Christ. Each of the scenes is framed by decorative bands while painted busts feature between the arches of the arcade and figures of the Apostles between the windows. The chapel of St Michael on the first floor of the porch is also decorated with wall paintings depicting the Last Supper.

References:

Comments

Your name

Website (optional)



Details

Founded: 724 AD
Category: Religious sites in Germany
Historical period: Part of The Frankish Empire (Germany)

Rating

4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Paweł Maryńczak (20 months ago)
Na wyspie Reichenau na Jeziorze Bodeńskim zachowały się ruiny założonego w 724 r. klasztoru benedyktyńskiego, o silnym oddziaływaniu duchowym, intelektualnym i artystycznym. Kościoły: Mariacki, Św. Marka, Św. Piotra i Pawła oraz Św. Grzegorza, wzniesione głównie pomiędzy IX i XI w., stanowią przegląd wczesnośredniowiecznej architektury klasztornej w Europie Środkowej. Zachowane malowidła ścienne świadczą o wysokim poziomie twórczości artystycznej.
Stefan Schmidt (21 months ago)
War Geschäftlich hier. Will aber definitiv mit meiner Familie auch mal.her kommen.
Rick Harrison (2 years ago)
World heritage site, peaceful and calm, with great bakery and local produce. Easy access by bus,bike or car ...but bikes are best!
Vlad Demartsev (2 years ago)
Beautiful and quiet island on the lake. A lot of small restaurants and cosy holiday resorts.
Daniel Boluda (3 years ago)
Beautiful place by Konstanz lake. Great place for taking baths in summer. Fitting room, ice creams, surf boards available...
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Wroclaw Town Hall

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.