Maulbronn Monastery Complex is the most complete surviving Cistercian monastic structure in Europe. It includes an extensive water-management system of reservoirs and channels. The Cistercians laid out a network of approximately twenty natural and artificial lakes and ponds over several terraces. These were interconnected with an extensive system of trenches and canals.
This former monastery was founded in 1147. It further developed from the 12th to the 17th century. The main church was built in a transitional style from Romanesque to Gothic. It was of fundamental importance for the dissemination of Gothic architecture over much of northern and central Europe.
After the Reformation broke out, the Duke of Württemberg seized the monastery in 1504 and built his hunting lodge and stables there. Half a century later, the former abbey was given over to a Protestant seminary, which has occupied it ever since.
The monastery complex included a number of craft workshops, which were occupied by lay brothers. Some of these outbuildings are made of stone, others are timber-framed. The whole complex is surrounded by a wall.
Visit April 2010
The monastery is located on the outskirts of the modern town of Maulbronn. The Cistercians choose this spot for its favourable agricultural conditions - not because of reasons of seclusion. It really is a "complex", behind its walls lies a large square with several public buildings, a mill, a bakery and the monastery of course.
I arrived already at 9.15 a.m. The people at the reception gave me a bewildered look, but sold me an entrance ticket for 6 EUR anyway. There were no other visitors yet. The only people around were about 20 regional craftsmen that were preparing their stalls for an Easter market.
So I wandered around alone in the monastery too. It was a dark and cold morning, which gave some extra gloom to the already austere surroundings. There's not a lot of frivolity to see inside apart from some faded frescoes. Most impressive are the large halls were the monks and the lay brothers (separately) used to dine.
What I liked most about this WHS were its intact surroundings. The timber-framed buildings on site look very authentic, you just wait for the medieval fair to start. They now have modern use (as restaurant, wedding chapel, museum, city hall). On the hill the terraces and vineyards developed by the monks can still be seen.
More photos can be found in the Picture Gallery
I visited Maulbronn Monastery in April 2013. It is practically intact with defense walls, a moat, gate, etc. The architecture is sublime and visiting on a weekday meant that I had the whole Kloster for myself. A really interesting and deserving WHS. If you visit this site, do try the local Maultasche with cheese ... delicious.
| Date posted: April 2013|
|Philipp Peterer (Switzerland):|
The Maulbronn monastery is well worth a visit. It's a bit off the route so I consider to go by car. Most of the buildings are still in use as a museum, a very nice restaurant, a shop or even the town hall. The guided tour provides a lot of interesting information and allows you to see far more than e.g. in Pannonhalma. Don't expect to see a lot of pomp inside. The monks there are puritans and reject wealth, so rooms and even the church are rather spartanic. But the range of nice buildings and the complete wall made Maulbronn the best of the WHS monasteries I've seen so far.
| Date posted: March 2010|
|Martha Wiley (USA):|
Maulbronn is still actively in use, all these hundreds of years after construction, as a school, so parts of the complex are off-limits to visitors. However, enough of it is open so that you can get a good feeling for what life was like in the 12 and 13th century monastery. I like the church especially, but it was very interesting to see the warming room (the only room in the monastery that had heat in the old days) and the dining halls.
We walked around outside the north wall of the monastery and around a small lake which I believe was created by damming a stream during the monastery's period of active use. Good half day trip.
| Date posted: July 2005|
|Fanny Melian Havela (Finland):|
Maulbronn was (at least that day) very empty, which provided excellent opportunity to just wander around in silence. It had a very authentic feel to it, which I believe had much to do with the purposeful withholding of drama or eyecatchers for tourists.
There was a piano in one empty hall, and I sneaked in and played a few accords.. very nice!
Have you been to Maulbronn Monastery Complex? Share your experiences!
Add your own review