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A historically significant abbey in scenic surroundings

Hirsau Monastery

Interior of the monastery church of St. Aurelius at Hirsau Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer
THE ROOTS OF HIRSAU MONASTERY

THE AURELIUS MONASTERY

The monastery dedicated to St. Aurelius was built in the 11th century on the banks of the Nagold river. They house the relics of St. Aurelius, brought from Italy to the northern Black Forest. Only the Church of St. Aurelius remains; the rest of this monastery has been mostly lost.

Full view of Hirsau Monastery after the fire of 1692, painting by Johann Jacob Bock. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Andrea Rachele

Hirsau was once at the center of monastery reform.

EARLY TRACES

The 11th-century Aurelius Monastery formed the foundation of the St. Peter and Paul monastery, later erected under Abbots Wilhelm von Hirsau and Gebhard von Urach, which subsequently formed the basis for Hirsau's later glory. A monastery may have stood here as early as 830. However, those buildings fell to ruin over time and were not rebuilt until the mid-11th century, when the second monastery was founded. Parts of that second monastery have survived to this day.

Exterior of the Church of St. Aurelius at Hirsau Monastery. Image: Calw Tourist Information

The heart of the monastery.

THE CHURCH OF ST. AURELIUS

The Romanesque Church of St. Aurelius, built between 1059 and 1071, was at the center of the monastery. It was designed as a three-aisled, flat-roofed, columned basilica with vaulted aisles and a narthex. The church arose over a cruciform outline with an apse at the end of both transepts and the main choir to the east, a semicircular room that was part of the choirs. The church was partially torn down in the 16th century, and only the nave and the shafts of the two west towers remain.

Interior of the Church of St. Aurelius at Hirsau Monastery. Image: Calw Tourist Information

Today, it once again serves as a Catholic church.

A 20TH-CENTURY RENOVATION

As of 1954, following comprehensive renovations, the church was again used as a Catholic place of worship. It was outfitted with a new flat wooden beam ceiling and a the east side was decorated with monumental relief by Stuttgart sculptor Otto Herbert Hajek. He also created the shrine for the Aurelius relics brought back from Zwiefalten as well as other important pieces. The windows were created by Württemberg stained-glass artist Wilhelm Geyer.

Exterior of the Church of St. Aurelius at Hirsau Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Andrea Rachele

The cloister ruins are still visible today.

CLOISTER IN THE CHURCH OF ST. AURELIUS

A cloister was previously located on the south side of the Church of St. Aurelius, of which a 33-meter stretch of wall has survived. Originally, it was part of the cloister's east wing, the dimensions of which were first able to be determined by archaeological excavations in 2000. According to these excavations, the conclave was 44 x 36 meters with a square courtyard at its center.

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