Engelberg Abbey is a Franciscan monastery located on the hill above the town of Grossheubach. The hill spur on which the abbey is situated was likely used in prehistoric times as a cult site. Around 1300, a chapel dedicated to St. Michael was built there and a statue of Mary erected. The likely location of this chapel was where the choir of today"s church stands. The first documented pilgrimage occurred in 1406. In 1469, a brotherhood was established in connection with the Engelberg pilgrimage.

In 1630, Anselm Kasimir von Wambold, Archbishop of Mainz, asked Capuchins from the Rhenish Province to come here. The abbey was finished by 1639. At the same time the church was enlarged and largely achieved its current, Baroque, form. After 1647, the monastery had the status of Konvent. In 1697, the Antonius chapel was added. In 1701, a Gnadenbild der Freudenreichen Muttergottes from the mid-14th century, was erected in the right side-chapel.

When the German ecclesial states were securalized in the early 19th century in what is known as the German mediatization, Engelberg was initially not much affected. The acceptance of novices was forbidden, though, setting it up for eventual extinction. In 1817, the Gymnasium (school) was dissolved. However, in 1828, King Ludwig I of Bavaria ordered the monks to move to Aschaffenburg. The monastery was refounded, but Franciscans of the Bavarian Order Province took over in taking care of pilgrims.

A burial chapel for the Catholic branch of House Löwenstein was built next to the church. In 1899, the church was enlarged towards the west. A terrace was added as well as the room which today serves as a confessional chapel.

The pilgrimage continues today . Well into the post-WWII period, some pilgrims climbed the steps to the abbey on their knees while praying. The pilgrimage way through the vineyards from Grossheubach features 14 Baroque chapels and 14 Stations of the Cross from 1866.

The current set of mostly Baroque monastic buildings are quite simple architecturally, reflecting their origins during the Thirty Years" War. Back then, measured by its message, the most important work of art was the larger-than-life statue of St. Michael set above the church portal, created by Zacharias Juncker the Older around 1635. It references a much more significant statue of the saint created by Hubert Gerhard for the Michaelskirche at Munich. The statue at Engelberg was erected after the Protestant Swedish had been beaten and driven out of Franconia, turning the monastery into a monument to the resurrected power of the Catholic faith.

The church and some other areas of the monastery are open to visitors. The order runs a restaurant and shop in the buildings.

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Founded: 1630s
Category: Religious sites in Germany
Historical period: Thirty Years War & Rise of Prussia (Germany)

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4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Ralf Landsberger (2 years ago)
Nice walk, nice beer, nice Schankstube
Corinna Landsberger (2 years ago)
Beautiful Chapel, nice view, good beer and good food.
Carl Kleine-Weischede (3 years ago)
The pilgrimage site in the mountains of Bavaria is always worth a visit. The historical Church and Franciscan Abbey is perch on a high hill overlooking Main River. There’s paid parking lots and you have to walk up the hill to get to the top of the lovely Church. There’s also coffee and souvenir shop and clean rest rooms. The coffee shop sells local specialty cakes and tortes but it’s always crowded. Came here on the 2nd day of Christmas and it was busy day even during winter. The scenery is awesome, when you are on top of the hill you have the view of Main river and lovely village. I highly recommend for people who want the road less traveled.
Gausoon G (3 years ago)
Very nice place, beautiful view from the hill, excellent beer :-)
Petra Robertson (3 years ago)
A great place to hike to (if you can brave the 612 steps that are at the end) and have a beer and some food up there. For those who don't want to walk you can drive by car and it is only a short distance from the parking area
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