Amorbach Abbey was one of four Carolingian foundations intended to establish Christianity in the region of the Odenwald. It is said to take its name from Amor, a disciple of Saint Pirmin, regarded as the founder. The abbey was consecrated in 734. By 800 it had become a Reichsabtei, the abbot being directly answerable to Charlemagne. Pepin united it to the Bishopric of Würzburg, although control of it was much disputed by the Bishops of Mainz.
The abbey played an important role in the clearing and settlement of the vast tracts of forest in which it was located, and in the evangelisation of other areas, notably Saxony: many of the abbots of the missionary centre of Verden an der Aller - later to become the Bishops of Verden - had previously been monks at Amorbach. It was severely damaged by the invasions of the Hungarians in the 10th century.
In 1525 the buildings were stormed and plundered during the German Peasants' War by forces under the command of Götz von Berlichingen. During the Thirty Years' War the abbey was attacked by the Swedes in 1632, was dissolved for a short time between 1632 and 1634 and the lands taken by a local landowner, and although it was afterwards restored and the lands regained, there followed a period of decline and poverty.
In 1656 the Bishops of Mainz and Würzburg reached agreement: Amorbach was transferred into the control, both spiritual and territorial, of the Archbishop of Mainz, and significant building works followed. In the 1740s the site was completely refurbished in the Rococo style, of which it remains a significant example, under the supervision of Maximilian von Welsch. Further extensive construction and decoration was undertaken in the 1780s, including in 1782 the installation of what was at the time the biggest organ in the world.
The patrons were the Virgin Mary, with Saints Simplicius, Faustinus and Beatrix.
The abbey was finally dissolved in 1803 and given with its lands as compensation for lost territories to the Princes of Leiningen, who still live there today. Jurisdiction over the abbey and its territories passed to the government of the Kingdom of Bavaria in 1816.References:
Augustusburg Palace represents one of the first examples of Rococo creations in Germany. For the Cologne elector and archbishop Clemens August of the House of Wittelsbach it was the favourite residence. In 1725 the Westphalian architect Johann Conrad Schlaun was commissioned by Clemens August to begin the construction of the palace on the ruins of a medieval moated castle.
In 1728, the Bavarian court architect François de Cuvilliés took over and made the palace into one of the most glorious residences of its time. Until its completion in 1768, numerous outstanding artists of European renown contributed to its beauty. A prime example of the calibre of artists employed here is Balthasar Neumann, who created the design for the magnificent staircase, an enchanting creation full of dynamism and elegance. The magical interplay of architecture, sculpture, painting and garden design made the Brühl Palaces a masterpiece of German Rococo.
UNESCO honoured history and present of the Rococo Palaces by inscribing Augustusburg Palace – together with Falkenlust Palace and their extensive gardens – on the World Heritage List in 1984. From 1949 onwards, Augustusburg Palace was used for representative purposes by the German Federal President and the Federal Government for many decades.
In 1728, Dominique Girard designed the palace gardens according to French models. Owing to constant renovation and care, it is today one of the most authentic examples of 18th century garden design in Europe. Next to the Baroque gardens, Peter Joseph Lenné redesigned the forested areas based on English landscaping models. Today it is a wonderful place to have a walk.