We spent 4 days in the small city of Maulbronn in the region of Baden-Württemberg for James and Meike’s wedding. The reception was going to be held there, so conveniently many of us foreigners were staying there too. Perfect. But Maulbronn isn’t just a place to stay – it has its own UNESCO World Heritage Sight – Maulbronn Monastery. It’s the best-preserved medieval Cistercian monastery complex in Europe. Considering we had seen ruined monasteries in Yorkshire earlier this year (Fountain’s Abbey and Rievaulx Abbey), we were looking forward to seeing a whole one.
The monastery complex is made up of a series of huge buildings which were used as food storage, stables, dormitory for monastery labourers and so forth. I love the paintwork!
The monastery itself is whole and complete – so awesome to see compared to the ruins in Yorkshire! The church was first constructed in 1147 and most of the other buildings were built the century after. For such old buildings, it’s great that there’s still remnant paint and patterns on the ceilings. The interior of these buildings must’ve been stunning when they were completely covered in colour!
The church in the monastery had a major influence in the spread of Gothic architecture over much of northern and central Europe. The contrast of the white washed walls and the dark wooded choir stalls are pretty cool.
The most photographed thing in the monastery is the fountain in the fountain house. The bottom layer of the fountain was constructed in the 14th century, and the layers above added in later centuries. I think. The monks washed here before meals and prayer times.
One of the main reasons the monastery became a UNESCO world heritage site was because of the completeness of its waterways and fortifications. We’re standing outside the fortified wall here over one of the moats. Very impressive for a 14th century complex!
The monastery was a great way to spend a morning with Rob’s family in preparation for the wedding the next day.
But we’ll talk about the wedding in the next post.