The Medieval monastery complex of Bebenhausen is nestled in the gently rolling hills of the Schönbuch nature reserve. Some of its buildings were converted into a royal hunting palace in the 19th century.
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Mediaeval Cistercian monastery and hunting lodge for the kings of Württemberg: Two worlds merge in Bebenhausen – which you can learn about on our many guided tours. The site and the monasterial environment enjoy special protection because of their beauty. Visitor information
Attractively set in a peaceful valley, Bebenhausen Monastery is one of the best-preserved Cistercian abbeys in southern Germany. Founded between 1180 and 1183 by Rudolf, Count Palatine of Tübingen, the abbey was taken over by Cistercians a few years later – and promptly developed into one of the wealthiest monasteries in the region. After the Reformation swept through in 1534, and a boarding school was established in 1560, the number of monks dwindled, until the monastery was finally dissolved in 1648.
The abbey’s idyllic woodland setting also appealed to the kings of Württemberg. Bebenhausen passed into their possession in 1807, when much church property was officially annexed by German states. From 1868, parts of the monastery complex were converted into a royal hunting palace, which became a favourite venue for the monarchs and their entourages.
Today, surrounded by the Schönbuch nature reserve, Bebenhausen vividly conveys the atmosphere of a Medieval Cistercian monastery – offering an experience unmatched anywhere else in southern Germany. Guided tours illuminate the lives of the monks and schoolboys, describe the lavish royal hunting parties and give insights into the buildings’ architectural features. The hunting palace also offers interesting tours.
The summer refectory, where the monks dined in the warmer seasons, presents Gothic architecture at its most elegant.
Bebenhausen Monastery (Kloster Bebenhausen)
The church, main monastery building, abbot’s residence, guesthouse and infirmary, surrounded by walls and guarded by towers, are located on a terrace above the Goldersbach valley. The outer precinct of the monastery, with an assortment of buildings, is directly adjacent. The famous Sommerrefektorium (summer refectory), a light and airy hall with two aisles and a fan-vaulted ceiling, demonstrates the mastery of its Gothic architects.
Bebenhausen Palace (Schloss Bebenhausen)
The 19th century interiors, inspired by the Gothic and Renaissance styles, make Bebenhausen an important architectural heritage site. But the Grüne Saal (green room) has a distinct Art Nouveau character. After Württemberg ceased to be a monarchy in 1918, the royal couple, Wilhelm II and Charlotte, were given the right to remain in Bebenhausen for the rest of their lives. The royal bathroom and kitchen are well worth seeing: the luxurious bathroom, dating from 1915, is unusually well preserved. The kitchen also represented the height of modernity when it was installed in 1915 – and still works today.