Rot an der Rot Abbey was the first Premonstratensian monastery in Swabia. The imposing structure of the former monastery is situated on a hill between the valleys of the rivers Rot and Haslach. The monastery church, dedicated to St Verena, and the convent buildings are an important part of the Upper Swabian Baroque Route. Apart from the actual monastic buildings, a number of other structures have been preserved among which are the gates and the economy building.
Rot an der Rot village was first mentioned around the year 1100. According to local tradition the monastery was founded under the name of Mönchroth in 1126 by Hemma von Wildenberg with active participation of Norbert of Xanten. The first monks to settle at Rot an der Rot Abbey were French Premonstratensians. Shortly after 1126, probably around 1140, a nunnery was added to Rot an der Rot Abbey, which was not unusual for the Premonstratensian order. By close proximity to a monastery the nuns were provided with protection and pastoral care. This nunnery continued to exist until the second half of the 14th century.
In a charter dated from 1179, Emperor Frederick Barbarossa declared himself Vogt of the abbey, laying the foundation for the later Imperial immediacy. In 1182 a devastating conflagration destroyed the original foundation documents and imperial privileges. A Papal bull by Lucius III published the same year replaced the lost documents and assigned the foundation of the monastery to Hemma von Wildenberg and two of her male relatives.
In 1338 the abbey received a grant exempting it from the jurisdiction of secular courts. Following the Great Plague of 1348 fewer members of the landed gentry joined the monastery but more and more farmers and members of the middle class resulting in a decrease in the acquisition of lands. Crop failures, fires, wars and an economic crisis lasting for decades accelerated the decline of the abbey until, in 1391, only three monks were left.
The abbot of Weissenau Abbey, an abbey originally founded as a filial institution by monks from Rot an der Rot, finally took control and in 1407 King Rupert installed Seneschal John II of Waldburg as governor of the abbey. The restoration of the fortunes of Rot an der Rot Abbey began with Abbot Henrich Merk (1417–20) and was continued by his successor Martin Hesser (1420–57), who was also called the second founder of Rot an der Rot. In Constance in 1425 an alliance was forged with most of the other Swabian abbots to defend the monasteries' rights against the intervention of noble family members of monks. Martin Hesser also expedited the restoration of monastic life and the restitution of the monastery's mortgaged and sold property as well as the rebuilding of the monastery buildings. Since 1458 Rot an der Rot Abbey had the financially lucrative right to occupy the incorporated parishes with priest from the monastery.
In 1481 a fire destroyed almost the whole monastery. The rebuilding of the monastery lasted until 1509 when the new church was dedicated. Emperor Maximilian I elevated Rot an der Rot Abbey to the status of Imperial Abbey in 1497. The abbey gained imperial immediacy and the abbot became a member of the Swabian College of Imperial Prelates contributing to the Council of the Princes in the Imperial Diet of the Holy Roman Empire. However, following repeated lootings during the German Peasants' War in 1525 and the Schmalkaldic War in 1546 the fortunes of the abbey went again into decline which was only stopped by cautious reforms introduced by Abbot Martin Ehrmann (1560–89).
During the Thirty Years' War (1618–48) the abbey was looted more than 200 times. After the end of the war and a period of consolidation, Abbot Martin Erde (1672–1711) endeavored to re-establish religious discipline and learning among the clerics and also attempted to improve the economic situation of the monastery. However, in 1681 most of the abbey was destroyed during a fire. Between 1681 and 1698 the whole monastery complex was rebuilt in Baroque-style.
The present-day monastery complex is towered by the neoclassicist monastery church St Verena. It was rebuilt between 1777 and 1786 and newly furnished since Abbot Mauritius Moritz had started with the demolishing of the older church against the wishes of the convent. The architect Johann Baptist Laub had the eastern part of the church erected but the real reconstruction commenced only under Abbot Willebold Held (1782–89). After the foundation stone was laid in 1783 most of the work was carried out by the canons themselves. The interior was designed by the painters Meinrad von Ow and Januarius Zick whereas the plaster was designed by Franz Xaver Feuchtmayer. The construction of the massive organ by Johann Nepomuk Holzhey began in 1792 and finished the following year. Adjoined to the church the new monastery building was built. At the bottom of the hill where the monastery is situated the square economy building was raised.
In 1803 the abbey was dissolved during the secularisation of secular and ecclesiastical states and the monks were forced to leave the premises. The monastery's possessions of thirteen villages and hamlets with a total of 2871 subjects were taken over by the Counts of Wartenberg in compensation for territories they had lost left of the river Rhine. In 1806 the monastery and village of Rot an der Rot was incorporated into the newly founded Kingdom of Württemberg. In 1808 the Counts of Erbach-Erbach inherited the former abbey. In the 19th century, two wings of the monastery building and the library were demolished.
In 1947 the Premonstratensians bought the monastery building and returned to Rot an der Rot. However, the attempt to re-establish monastic life failed and in 1959 the buildings were bought by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart. Today the former monastery is home to the educational and recreational establishment St Norbert run by Premonstratensian nuns who founded a community in Rot an der Rot in 1950.References:
Czocha Castle is located on the Lake Leśnia, what is now the Polish part of Upper Lusatia. Czocha castle was built on gneiss rock, and its oldest part is the keep, to which housing structures were later added.
Czocha Castle began as a stronghold, on the Czech-Lusatian border. Its construction was ordered by Wenceslaus I of Bohemia, in the middle of the 13th century (1241–1247). In 1253 castle was handed over to Konrad von Wallhausen, Bishop of Meissen. In 1319 the complex became part of the dukedom of Henry I of Jawor, and after his death, it was taken over by another Silesian prince, Bolko II the Small, and his wife Agnieszka. Origin of the stone castle dates back to 1329.
In the mid-14th century, Czocha Castle was annexed by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia. Then, between 1389 and 1453, it belonged to the noble families of von Dohn and von Kluks. Reinforced, the complex was besieged by the Hussites in the early 15th century, who captured it in 1427, and remained in the castle for unknown time (see Hussite Wars). In 1453, the castle was purchased by the family of von Nostitz, who owned it for 250 years, making several changes through remodelling projects in 1525 and 1611. Czocha's walls were strengthened and reinforced, which thwarted a Swedish siege of the complex during the Thirty Years War. In 1703, the castle was purchased by Jan Hartwig von Uechtritz, influential courtier of Augustus II the Strong. On August 17, 1793, the whole complex burned in a fire.
In 1909, Czocha was bought by a cigar manufacturer from Dresden, Ernst Gutschow, who ordered major remodelling, carried out by Berlin architect Bodo Ebhardt, based on a 1703 painting of the castle. Gutschow, who was close to the Russian Imperial Court and hosted several White emigres in Czocha, lived in the castle until March 1945. Upon leaving, he packed up the most valuable possessions and moved them out.
After World War II, the castle was ransacked several times, both by soldiers of the Red Army, and Polish thieves, who came to the so-called Recovered Territories from central and eastern part of the country. Pieces of furniture and other goods were stolen, and in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the castle was home to refugees from Greece. In 1952, Czocha was taken over by the Polish Army. Used as a military vacation resort, it was erased from official maps. The castle has been open to the public since September 1996 as a hotel and conference centre. The complex was featured in several movies and television series. Recently, the castle has been used as the setting of the College of Wizardry, a live action role-playing game (LARP) that takes place in their own universe and can be compared to Harry Potter.