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An extraordinary ensemble in an idyllic setting

Bebenhausen Monastery and Palace

Kreuzgang-Nordflügel im Kloster und Schloss Bebenhausen; Foto: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Rose Hajdu
The heart of the conclave and a brilliant divider

The cloister

The cloister is the core of every monastery complex. All of the important rooms of the conclave lie along the four wings of the courtyard. This is where the monks lived. Processions took place here. According to legend in Bebenhausen, the monks were said to light candles in the windows on Saturdays.

The cloister of Bebenhausen Monastery and Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Günther Bayerl

The cloister was the heart of the complex.

Fifty years of construction

The forerunner of the present cloister was constructed under Abbot Friedrich at the end of the 13th century. Approximately 200 years later, Abbot Werner Glüttenbardt initiated new construction, but this was first completed by his successors, Bernhard Rockenbauch and Johann von Fridingen at the beginning of the 16th century. The cloister simultaneously served the Cistercians as a common room, colonnade, processional, and place for meditation. Each wing was assigned certain activities.

South wing of the cloister with the fountain house from the outside, Bebenhausen Monastery and Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Bebenhausen local administration

The evening readings took place in the north wing.

Seats for listeners

The north wing or collation path, located directly next to the monastery church, had a special liturgical significance. This is where the evening reading, called "collatio" in Latin, took place. On Maundy Thursday, the abbot washed the feet of the lay monks and some members of the poor. This is commemorated by the stone bench on the church wall, which was, however, renovated in the 19th century. In the east wing, the lay monks listened to the meetings of the monks when they gathered in the chapter house, which was next to this part of the cloister.

Detail of the fountain house at Bebenhausen Monastery; Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Bebenhausen local administration

The monks bathed in the fountain house.

Burbling water

The south wing of the cloister leads to the fountain house or lavatorium. An unusual late Gothic ribbon star vault distinguishes this part of the building. The fountains themselves no longer exist. In the lavatorium, the monks washed their hands before and after meals. They were also shaved here. The west wing, which was completed last, was reserved for the lay monks of the monastery, who entered the monastery church and the inner area of the monastery through their own gate in the northwest.

Innenansicht Brunnenhaus von Kloster Bebenhausen; Foto: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Ortsverwaltung Bebenhausen

Unusual: the ribbon star vault.

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

The dead were commemorated in the chapter house.

A magnificent burial place

All the artistry of late Gothic architects and stonemasons can be seen in the four wings of the cloister: The detailed tracery windows, the refined net and star vaults, and the fanciful keystones are outstanding. The cloister was a coveted burial place for the nobility of the surrounding area. This can be seen in the many medieval tomb slabs embedded in the floor.

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

Each wing in the cloister had a specific function.