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An extraordinary ensemble in an idyllic setting

Bebenhausen Monastery and Palace

Kreuzgang von Kloster und Schloss Bebenhausen; Foto: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Christoph Hermann
Cistercian architecture

The monastery

The former Cistercian abbey of Bebenhausen is among the most impressive medieval monastery complexes in southwestern Germany. Its former riches are shown in impressive buildings such as the summer refectory, the crossing tower, and the cloister.

Aerial view of Bebenhausen Monastery complex. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Achim Mende

Mighty walls surround the complex.

Protected monastery complex

A mighty wall from the second half of the 13th century protects the cramped spaces of the monastery and separates it from the farmyard. This wall and the elevated position on a mountain spur, plus a battlement, two towers, and an inner bailey in front of the Kapff Building, give the monastery the appearance of a castle. The main entrance to the abbey also contributed to this: The path into the monastery passes through the 15th-century defensive gatehouse, called the Writing Tower, in the southwest of the complex.

Interior view of the cloister of Bebenhausen Monastery and Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Bebenhausen local administration

A monastery full of impressive architecture.

Church and cloister

The monastery church occupies the highest part of the terrain. It is dedicated to Mary, the patron saint of the order. Her elegant, truly large crossing tower is famous. At the beginning of the 15th century, it was created by a Cistercian architect from Salem. According to the rules of the order, Cistercian churches were not permitted to have towers; the monks therefore put even more energy into this ridge turret. On the south side of the church, the conclave is connected to the Gothic cloister and its impressive star and net vault.

Chapter house of Bebenhausen Monastery and Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Angela Hammer

Monks met daily in the chapter house.

Meeting rooms surround the cloister

The cloister provides access to the conclave, the area in which the monks lived. The chapter house is located in the east wing. The monks met here every day to listen to readings from the rules of the order. Conversations were permitted in the parlatory, and only there! The monks' dormitory, or sleeping quarters, is on the floor above these halls. The summer dining hall, the refectory, is located on the south side. The fountain house opens onto the cloister garden. The west side holds the winter dining hall and the lay refectory.

Outside the monks' conclave

A passage between the Fraternal Hall and the parlatory leads to other monastery buildings. The former abbey guest house and the hospital, or infirmary, were important buildings. The former abbot's kitchen is located in the south. The royal living spaces were created in this area in the 19th century. North of these stood the great row of barns, grain storage for the monastery. The abbot's house, located outside of the conclave due to the official duties of the abbey, was once connected to the sleeping quarters by a bridge.

Außenansicht des heutigen Klosters und Schlosses Bebenhausen; Foto: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Bebenhausen, Rose Hajdu
Außenansicht des ehemaligen Abtshauses in Kloster und Schloss Bebenhausen; Foto: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Janna Almeida

Part of the monastery was converted into a palace.

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