Zwiefalten Abbey was a Benedictine monastery founded in 1089 at the time of the Investiture Controversy by Counts Gero and Kuno of Achalm, advised by Bishop Adalbero of Würzburg and Abbot William of Hirsau. The first monks were also from Hirsau Abbey, home of the Hirsau Reforms (under the influence of the Cluniac reforms), which strongly influenced the new foundation. Noker von Zwiefalten was the first abbot and led from 1065–90.
During the 12th century Saint Ernest (died 1148) was abbot. Between 1145 and 1149 he participated in the Second Crusade to regain the Holy Lands including Jerusalem.
Although Pope Urban VI granted special privileges to it, Zwiefalten Abbey was nevertheless the private monastery of the Counts of Achalm, later succeeded by the Counts of Württemberg. The abbey was plundered in 1525 during the German Peasants' War. Christoph Rassler was abbot from 1658–75 and Augustin Stegmüller was abbot in the 18th century.
In 1750 the abbey was granted the status of Reichsabtei, which meant that it had the status of an independent power subject only to the Imperial Crown and was free of the rule of Württemberg. On 25 November 1802, however, it was secularised and dissolved and became a lunatic asylum and later psychiatric hospital, which it is today, as well as the site of the Württemberg Psychiatry Museum.
The present buildings were constructed in German Baroque style from 1739–47 under the direction of Johann Michael Fischer (1692–1766) of Munich, who began overseeing the work in 1741. The interior, considered a model of Baroque design, is filled with ornate chapels and gilded balustrades, dominated by the high altar, which combines a Gothic statue of the Virgin Mary dating from 1430 with Baroque additions (dating from about 1750) by Johann Joseph Christian (1706–77). The elaborate frescoes are by Franz Joseph Spiegler (1691–1757).References:
The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.
The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.
The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.
The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.
Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.
Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.