Seeon Abbey was a Benedictine monastery founded in 994 by Pfalzgraf Aribo I of Bavaria and settled by Benedictine monks from St. Emmeram's Abbey, Regensburg. The monastery is on an island in the lake Seeoner See. The abbey soon developed a significant scriptorium, producing manuscripts not only for the abbey's own use but also for other monasteries and churches. Their most important client was Emperor Henry II, who presented many volumes to the Bishopric of Bamberg, which he had founded.
Toward the end of the 11th century the abbey church was re-built in the Romanesque style, but this building stood for only 100 years or so, before in about 1180 it was replaced by the present church, terminating in the east with an apse.
More alterations in the late Gothic style were carried out between 1428 and 1433 by Konrad Pürkhel of Burghausen. The Romanesque basilica was given a vaulted ceiling and a new choir. In 1579 the church was decorated with unusual Renaissance frescoes, showing, alongside scenes from the life of Christ and the Virgin Mary, the patrons, Saints Benedict and Lambert, and the founders, Aribo and Adala. Also of special note is the red marble gravestone of Abbot Honorat Kolb and the gravestones of the abbots of the 15th and 16th centuries lined up against the walls of the castle chapel. In the middle stands the tomb of the founder, Count Aribo I, made by Hans Heider in about 1400. The restored cloisters are also worth seeing.
The original of the Madonna and Child (created in 1433 by the 'Master of Seeon') is considered one of the most beautiful representations of the subject. Since 1855 it has been in the Bavarian National Museum in Munich, but a copy has stood since 1947 on the high altar of the present parish church. The sacristy at Seeon contains a far older Madonna of about 1380.
The church originally had only one tower, that is, the north one, built to the model of that at Frauenchiemsee. The second tower was added at the end of the 12th century. The Romanesque towers are reminiscent of Freising Cathedral and, like the Frauenkirche at Munich, have copper 'onion towers', which were added after a fire in 1561. Between 1657 and 1670 the church was extended by the construction of a sacristy in the Lady Chapel, an oratory and a crypt beneath the chapel of Saint Barbara.
Until the secularisation of Bavaria in 1803 Seeon was a place of learning and culture: Haydn was a guest here, and Mozart was active here between 1767 and 1769.
After 1803 the abbey was dissolved and the buildings were turned into a castle, and used later at various times as a medicinal spa, convalescent home and barracks. The infirmary and the library were demolished, and a causeway constructed connecting the island to the mainland.
In 1989 the premises were eventually acquired by the government of the administrative region of Oberbayern and after a lengthy restoration reopened in 1993 as a cultural and educational centre, which is now used for concerts, exhibitions, seminars, conferences and workshops.References:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.