The resplendent choir window of Heiligkreuztal Monastery

Heiligkreuztal Monastery is the best preserved of six Cistercian convents in the region, with a rich cultural heritage. Its museum holds a treasure trove of rare ecclesiastical art.

Formerly home to Cistercian nuns, Heiligkreuztal Monastery (Kloster Heiligkreuztal) is nestled in a tributary valley of the Danube near the town of Riedlingen. It was established in 1227 by a community of Beguines, religious women who were also known as the “grey sisters” because of their clothing. Heiligkreuztal means valley of the Holy Cross. According to legend, this name derives from a precious gift: in 1231, Count Egon acquired a fragment of the Cross from Reichenau Monastery, which he donated to the convent.

A view of the convent church: the resplendent choir window and the richly decorated altars.

A view of the convent church: the resplendent choir window and the richly decorated altars.

An architectural journey of discovery

Heiligkreuztal is a hidden gem rich in cultural heritage, with much to offer visitors. The architecture alone makes the journey worthwhile: the Klosterkirche (convent church), Bruderkirche (Church of Brothers) and other monastic buildings tell the story of their construction over the centuries. The convent church features the simple yet elegant Gothic forms typical of convents. Inside, this provides the perfect backdrop for a stunning collection of magnificent Renaissance and Baroque altars.

The museum in the Church of Brothers displays examples of the craftmanship and artistry of the convent's inhabitants.

The museum in the Church of Brothers displays examples of the craftmanship and artistry of the convent's inhabitants.

Rare and beautiful works of art

The glorious stained glass window in the choir, dating from 1312, is a spectacle of colour. In the apse, you will find the church’s most famous treasure: the Johannesminne. A woodcarving created by a master craftsman from Constance in the first half of the 14th century, it depicts John the Apostle and Jesus Christ – an image popular in convents in southern Germany. The museum in the Church of Brothers showcases many other masterpieces of ecclesiastical art, a unique collection of “catacomb saints”, as well as a number of devotional works by the nuns who lived here until 1843.

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