Mariawald Abbey is a monastery of the Trappists (formally known as the Cistercians of the Strict Observance), located above the village of Heimbach. Following Heinrich Fluitter's vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a shrine and chapel were built on the site of it, which became a place of pilgrimage, the Marienwallfahrt. For the proper care of the site and the pilgrims land was given in 1480 to the Cistercians of Bottenbroich Abbey, who established a priory here, which they were able to move into on 4 April 1486. The new monastery took its name from the shrine to Mary and from the woods in which it was situated: 'Marienwald', or 'Mary's wood'.
In 1795 the monastery was closed as a result of the French Revolution and the monks were expelled. The image of the Virgin was removed to safety in Heimbach. The priory buildings were abandoned and allowed to fall into decay. In 1860 the priory was re-settled by Trappist monks from Oelenberg Abbey in Alsace.
The monks had to leave the monastery yet again under the Nazi regime during World War II, from 1941 until April 1945, when the surviving members of the community were able to return. The monastery had to be largely rebuilt, because it had been seriously damaged in the war. After World War II, a brewery was run at the abbey until 1956 when beer production ceased, in part due to availability of water and brewing ingredients.
The monks follow the Rule of St. Benedict and the constitution of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance. Visitors can also stay a few days in the abbey's guesthouse, but the parts of the monastery used by the monastic community cannot be visited. The abbey runs a tavern and bookshop. It also produces and sells its own liqueur.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.