Bypass Repeated Content

A historically significant abbey in scenic surroundings

Hirsau Monastery

Ruins of the Church of St. Peter and Paul. Image: Calw Tourist Information
IMPORTANT ROMANESQUE STRUCTURE

THE MONASTERY CHURCH

The St. Peter and Paul Monastery formed the basis for the Hirsau reform movement. Its center, the church, was once the largest Romanesque structure in southwest Germany and innovated church architecture across Europe.

Ruins of the Church of St. Peter and Paul at Hirsau Monastery. Image: Calw Tourist Information

The monastery church was built quickly.

CONSECRATED AND LATER DESTROYED

Construction on the monastery church of St. Peter and Paul began in 1082 under Abbot Wilhelm von Hirsau. It was consecrated only nine years later. It is unlikely that the entire building had been completed at that time, since the monastery continued to expand until the mid-12th century. The church was severely damaged in the Nine Years' War and later served as a quarry. Its original appearance has been determined by various archaeological studies.

Perspective view of the layout of the convent buildings, the Chapel of St. Mary and the Owl Tower at Hirsau Monastery, 1933. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Lutz Hecker

Perspective view of the layout of the convent buildings

THE OUTLINE IS STILL VISIBLE TODAY

The elongated three-aisled body of the building was built on the outline of a Latin cross. Nave and aisles were separated from each other by seven pillars and two buttresses each. The tiered rectangular choir attached to the distinctly protruding transept arms. A galilee and two towers form the western boundary of the church. The north bell tower, the Owl Tower, has survived to this day.

Model of Hirsau Monastery prior to its destruction in 1692. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Andrea Rachele

A model shows the monastery prior to its destruction in 1692; the monastery church took up a large part of the complex.

Intersection and choir room in the Church of St. Peter and Paul with ruins of the All Saints' Chapel at Hirsau Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Andrea Rachele

The monks wanted an unadorned structure.

A SIMPLE, UNADORNED STRUCTURE

The monastery church of St. Peter and Paul was built of red sandstone. The entire structure makes a simple impression throughout with only some cushion capitals, whose tops are decorated with a scale pattern. The consistent avoidance of paintings and figures in the church reflects the Hirsau monks' devotion to the original Christian ideals of poverty, spirituality and piety, and made it an example for approximately 120 other monasteries.

Interior of the monastery museum at Hirsau Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Several wooden sculptures are on display in the museum.

NEW DECOR IN THE 16TH CENTURY

Only a few years before the Reformation, Abbot Johann III had the church decoratively painted, which was highly praised by his contemporaries. The iconography can be reconstructed based on old descriptions and included scenes from the Old and New Testament, as well as images of German emperors and kings. Some decorative wooden sculptures from the church's altars have survived and are now on display in the monastery museum.

ALSO OF INTEREST

Mehr erfahren

Monuments & functions
Art & spaces
Stylistic eras
Eras & events

Please select a maximum of 5 keywords.