Lüne Abbey was originally built for Benedictine nuns and today is home to a chapter of Lutheran conventuals. It is one of several former monasteries administered by the Hanoverian monastic chamber.
Lüne Abbey was founded in 1172 by Hildeswidis von Markboldestorp. In the founding document by Hugo, Bishop of Verden, there is no mention of the observances to be followed, so that it is assumed that it was a chapter of canonesses. Not until 1272 was the nunnery described in a document as an abbey for Benedictine nuns and only from the mid-14th century is a full adoption of Benedictine observances recorded.
The abbey was overseen by an abbess. Its administration and pastoral care was placed in the charge of a provost elected by the nuns. One of these provosts, Henry of Langlingen (d. 1381), was elected Prince-Bishop of Verden by the Verden cathedral chapter in 1367. Lüne nunnery belonged to the Bursfelde Congregation.
Following the introduction of the Reformation in the Principality of Lüneburg the first service in the German language was celebrated on 26 April 1528 at the instigation of Duke Ernest the Confessor, despite the opposition of the nuns. In 1529 the provostship's property was placed under ducal administration and a new provost, selected by the local lords, was installed who was to ensure the implementation of Lutheran doctrine.
However, due to considerably resistance by the orthodox nuns it took until 1562 before the new doctrine was fully adopted throughout the convent. On the basis of a rule in the Lüneburg Monastic Regulations the monastery retained its independence however. In 1711, at the behest of Duke George-Louis (later George I of Great Britain) the monastery was turned into a Lutheran convent, whose primary task was to take care of unmarried daughters of Lüneburg's country gentry.
In 1380 the monastery was rebuilt in the Brick Gothic style after a major fire. The cloisters, the single-nave church of 1412 and the Nonnenchor are well preserved, the same is true of the former Dormitorium (dormitory).
Lüne is famous for its knitting and embroidery (wool on linen). Valuable pieces (white embroidery (Weißstickerei) altar cloths, fasting cloths (Fastentücher) and carpets, the oldest dating to around 1250, are displayed in the textile museum in the grounds of the monastery opened in 1995. In the church on the altar in the Nonnenchor is a painting from the workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder. The high altar's triptych (carved altar) was made in the early 16th century. Also worthy of mention are the wall paintings from around 1500 in the refectory of the monastery.
Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.
Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.