Oberschönenfeld Abbey is a Cistercian nunnery in Gessertshausen. As early as around 1186 there were Beguines, or a similar community of women, on this site. In about 1211 they formed a more structured community which by 1248, when the church was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, had been formally constituted as a Cistercian nunnery, accounted a daughter house of Kaisheim Abbey; its founders were the local nobleman Volkmar von Kemnat and Hartmann von Dillingen, Bishop of Augsburg, of the family of the Counts of Dillingen.
Between 1718 and 1721 the monastic buildings were reconstructed in their present Baroque form by the master builder Franz Beer, as was the church later.
Until 1803 the abbey was reichsunmittelbar and exercised territorial lordship over the villages of Gessertshausen and Altenmünster.
In 1803 the abbey was dissolved in the course of the secularisation of Bavaria. The nuns were not expelled, however, and the nunnery was reopened in 1836 by King Ludwig I of Bavaria as a priory, which was made an abbey again in 1918.
In the stables, unused since 1972, the Bezirk Schwaben established the Swabian Folklore and Crafts Museum in 1984. Here are also the nature reserve house of the Augsburg-Western Woods Nature Reserve and the Swabian Gallery (for revolving exhibitions).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.