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Unique insights into a monastery church and school

Alpirsbach Monastery

View of Alpirsbach Monastery. Image: Alpirsbach Tourist Info
ROMANESQUE MEETS GOTHIC

THE BUILDINGS

The monastery was built in the Romanesque style. The austere, clean organization of the architecture, however, continued to develop through the late Gothic period. Today, Alpirsbach Monastery is a stately complex that unifies both styles.

View of Alpirsbach Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Achim Mende

The Romanesque church characterizes the complex.

THE MONASTERY

Alpirsbach Monastery makes a defiant and reclusive impression; it is a structure of awe-inspiring monumentality. The monastery's appearance is dominated by the simplicity of its Romanesque church, of which the north choir-flanking tower rises above all the rest. The Gothic cloister attaches to the conclave buildings on the south side of the nave. Several auxiliary buildings round out the image of this Medieval monastery.

19th-century model of the monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Werner Hiller-König

Model of the monastery.

THE MONKS' LIVING SPACES

The monks' living spaces were located inside the conclave, an area to which only they had access. The east and south wings housed the chapter house, the common areas and sleeping quarters, as well as the dining hall and kitchen: all spaces in which to withdraw from the world. The west wing held the abbot's living quarters and reception areas, and was directed toward the outside world. Stores were kept in the cellar. Economic and management buildings as well as the former infirmary and bath house were to the southeast of the conclave.

MONASTERY BUILDINGS GIVE WAY TO THE RAILROAD

The monastery's overall appearance changed in the 19th century. Large parts of the monastery grounds were sold and buildings were torn down, including the Chapel of St. Mary, whose second story housed a library, a further imitation of the reform monastery in Hirsau. The construction of a railway between 1882 and 1886, as well as a road south of the conclave, resulted in the removal of several economic and management buildings, including the south gate and the Romanesque cold storage space, the so-called work building, with its striking ashlar masonry.

Interior of the church at Alpirsbach Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Unpainted columns in the monastery church.

MONASTERY CHURCH RESTORATION

The monastery church interior also underwent two restorations in the 19th century. In the 1860s, built-in fixtures from the post-medieval period were removed in order to restore the church's simple Romanesque appearance. During the renovations between 1878 and 1881, a medieval color scheme was implemented and wall and ceilings were enhanced with decorative paintings. Less than 100 years later, a different concept of the Middle Ages was applied and the paintings were removed.

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