An extraordinary ensemble in an idyllic setting

Bebenhausen Monastery and Palace

Bebenhausen Monastery and Palace, vault in the summer refectory; photo: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Steffen Hauswirth
The finest of dining halls

Summer and winter refectories

The Summer Refectory is one of the most elegant special creations of the 14th century. The monks' winter dining hall was built a good 100 years later. Since being redesigned in the 19th century, both display an impressive blend of high Gothic and historicism.

Bebenhausen Monastery and Palace, summer refectory; photo: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

One of the most elegant spatial creations.

Light-filled refectory

A fire led Abbot Konrad von Lustnau to restyle the Summer Refectory in 1335. Buttresses support the external walls of the structure. On the south side, a ridge turret crowns the roof, repeating the monastery church's crossing tower in reduced form. Inside, the hall unfolds the full beauty of late Gothic elegance. A special feature: just three narrow hexagonal pilasters support the delicate stellar vaulting. High fan tracery windows flood the dining hall with plenty of light.

Bebenhausen Monastery and Palace, historical shot of the summer refectory; photo: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Robert Bothner

Royal celebrations in a mediaeval ambience.

The King's Knights' Hall

When King Karl I had his private chambers established in the palace in 1873, he included the monastery buildings. Gothic-style panelling encircled the Summer Refectory and a bench and stone fireplace were added along with colorful glass windows and flooring made from glazed Mettlach tiles. Suits of armor, weapons and escutcheons on the walls effectively turned the monks' dining hall into a sort of Knights' Hall – and a setting for royal celebrations in a mediaeval ambience.

Bebenhausen Monastery and Palace, history painting in the winter refectory; photo: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

An inviting dining hall for the monks.

Heating for the monks

At the turn of the 16th century, Johann von Fridingen, the last Catholic abbot, converted the lay monks' dining hall into a heated winter dining hall for the monks. There had been such a reduction in the number of monastery residents by then that there was plenty of space for the small number of men. The wooden barrelled ceiling made from carved beams make the hall impressive and inviting. Some of the remains of the heating system can still be found in the floor.

Debating takes over from banqueting

King Karl also used the winter refectory as a dining hall. The New Gothic style tables and chairs, which still furnish the hall today, date back to his period. The 60 Members of the State Parliament of Württemberg-Hohenzollern later took their seats here when the winter refectory served as a plenary hall between 1947 and 1952. The wall paintings featuring tendrils, weapons and hunting motifs date back to between 1877 and 1879, while others were added in 1911. The historical fresco on the north wall depicts the deeds of the Calatrava Knights.

Bebenhausen Monastery and Palace, plenary hall in the former winter refectory; scan: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg
Bebenhausen Monastery and Palace, parliamentarians in the plenary hall; photo:  Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Stephan Kohls

After the Second World War the dining hall was used as a plenary hall.

Other highlights in Bebenhausen Monastery and Palace