Maulbronn Monastery

Maulbronn Abbey
German: Kloster Maulbronn

Maulbronn Abbey, circa 2009

Maulbronn Abbey, circa 2009
Location in Germany
Maulbronn Abbey
Location in Germany
49°0′4″N 8°48′46″E / 49.00111°N 8.81278°E / 49.00111; 8.81278Coordinates: 49°0′4″N 8°48′46″E / 49.00111°N 8.81278°E / 49.00111; 8.81278
Location Maulbronn, Baden-Württemberg
Country Germany
Denomination Pre-Reformation church
Previous denomination Catholic Church
Churchmanship High church
Authorising papal bull 1138
Founded 1147
Dedication Mary
Consecrated 1178
Associated people Arnold, Bishop of Speyer
Emperor Barbarossa
Duke Ulrich of Württemberg
Franz von Sickingen
Emperor Charles V
Duke Christoph of Württemberg
Gustavus Adolphus
Johannes Kepler
Ezéchiel du Mas
King Frederick I of Württemberg
Herman Hesse
Status Abbey
Functional status Preserved
Architectural type Monastery
Style Romanesque
Early Gothic
Years built 1147-1178
Groundbreaking 1147
Closed 1534
Demolished 1519 (burned by Franz von Sickingen)
Materials Stone
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Maulbronn Monastery Complex
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iv
Reference [ 546]
UNESCO region Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1993 (17th Session)
Imperial Monastery of Maulbronn
Reichskloster Maulbronn
Imperial Abbey of the Holy Roman Empire
Layout of the Maulbronn Monastery
Capital Maulbronn Abbey
Government Theocracy
Historical era Middle Ages
   Founded as Imperial abbey 1147
  Placed under Imperial
    protection by Barbarossa

  Seized by Württemberg 1504
  Monastery alternates between
    Protestantism and Cistercians

  Peace of Westphalia settles
    monastery to Protestantism

   Secularised to Württemberg 1806
  Seminary merged with
    that of Bebenhausen

Preceded by
Succeeded by
Bishopric of Speyer
Kingdom of Württemberg
Today part of  Germany

Maulbronn Monastery (German: Kloster Maulbronn) is a former Roman Catholic Cistercian Abbey and Protestant seminary located at Maulbronn in the German state of Baden-Württemberg.[1] The 850 year old, mostly Romanesque monastery complex, one of the best preserved examples of its kind in Europe,[2] is one of the very first buildings in Germany to use the Gothic style.[3] In 1993, the abbey was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[4]

The complex, surrounded by turreted walls and a tower gate, today houses the Maulbronn town hall and other administrative offices, a police station, and several restaurants. The monastery itself contains an Evangelical seminary in the Württemberg tradition.



The monastery was founded in 1147 by 12 Cistercian monks from Alsace[1] under the auspices of the first Cistercian pope, Eugenius III. The main church, built in a style transitional from Romanesque to Gothic, was consecrated in 1178 by Arnold, Bishop of Speyer. A number of other buildings — infirmary, refectory, cellar, auditorium, porch, south cloister, hall, another refectory, forge, inn, cooperage, mill, and chapel — followed in the course of the 13th century. The west, east and north cloisters date back to the 14th century, as do most fortifications and the fountain house or lavatorium.

After the Reformation broke out in the year 1517, Ulrich, Duke of Württemberg, seized the monastery in 1504, later building his hunting lodge and stables there. The monastery was pillaged repeatedly: first by the knights under Franz von Sickingen in 1519, then again during the German Peasants' War six years later. In 1534, Duke Ulrich secularised the monastery, but the Cistercians regained control — and Imperial recognition — under Charles V's Augsburg Interim. In 1556, Christoph, Duke of Württemberg, built a Protestant seminary, with Valentin Vannius becoming the first abbot two years later, odd, because the Reformation banned religious orders and abbots; Johannes Kepler studied there 1586–89.

In 1630, the abbey was returned to the Cistercians by force of arms, with Christoph Schaller von Sennheim becoming abbot. This restoration was short-lived, however, as Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden forced the monks to leave again two years later, with a Protestant abbot returning in 1633; the seminary reopened the following year, however the Cistercians under Schaller also returned in 1634. Under the Peace of Westphalia, in 1648, the confession of the monastery was settled in favour of Protestantism; with abbot Buchinger withdrawing in process. A Protestant abbacy was re-established in 1651, with the seminary reopening five years later. In 1692, the seminarians were removed to safety when Ezéchiel du Mas, Comte de Mélac, torched the school, which remained closed for a decade.

The monastery was secularised by Frederick I, King of Württemberg, in the course of the German Mediatisation in 1807, forever removing its political quasi-independence; the seminary merged with that of Bebenhausen the following year, now known as the Evangelical Seminaries of Maulbronn and Blaubeuren.

The monastery, which features prominently in Hermann Hesse's novel Beneath the Wheel, was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1993. The justification for the inscription was as follows: "The Maulbronn complex is the most complete survival of a Cistercian monastic establishment in Europe, in particular because of the survival of its extensive water-management system of reservoirs and channels". Hesse himself attended the monastery before fleeing in 1891 after a suicide attempt, and a failed attempt to save Hesse from his personal religious crisis by a well-known theologian and faith healer.[5]

To represent Baden-Württemberg, an image of the Abbey appears on the obverse of the German 2013 €2 commemorative coin.

View over the court




  1. 1 2 DK Publishing, p. 228
  2. DK Publishing, p. 190
  3. "Maulbronn Monastery". Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten in Baden-Württemberg. Baden-Württemberg.
  4. "Maulbronn Monastery Complex". UNESCO World Heritage. United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.
  5. Hermann Hesse: Background, childhood and youth (1877–95)

Media related to Maulbronn Monastery complex at Wikimedia Commons

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