A historically significant abbey in scenic surroundings

Hirsau Monastery

View toward the Chapel of St. Mary at Hirsau Monastery. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Dieter Jäger
IF THESE OLD WALLS COULD TALK

HISTORY OF DESIGN

Over 500 years of construction, from the Romanesque to the Renaissance, has left its mark on the Hirsau Monastery. Although most of the buildings have been lost, their ruins still represent what were once very important structures.

Nave of the monastery church of St. Aurelius at Hirsau Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

The Church of St. Aurelius is from the Romanesque period.

ROMANESQUE CUSHION CAPITALS

Hirsau's 9th-century beginnings are buried deep in the ground. Of the 11th-century monastery buildings, only the Church of St. Aurelius remains partially intact today. More recent excavations revealed information about its interior: The church once had a wooden flat slab roof and was characterized by massive round arches atop short round pillars with the Romanesque cushion capitals typical of Hirsau.

Owl Tower at Hirsau Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Andrea Rachele

The Owl Tower is a monastery landmark.

ROMANESQUE ARCHITECTURE

The monastery church, consecrated in 1091, is an excellent example of Romanesque architecture. Typical features include the clear boundaries between church sections and the two-tower facade, whose north tower still remains: The six-story Owl Tower, with arcade windows and a frieze depicting people and animals, became the monastery's landmark. Along the abat-sons are Hirsau's typical cushion pillars with their corner cusps, triangular caps topping the pillar.

Gothic ogival arch ruins and the Owl Tower at Hirsau Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Andrea Rachele

St. Peter and Paul is an example of Gothic architecture.

GOTHIC

In the second half of the 15th century, several structural changes were made to the St. Peter and Paul Monastery. Many of the Romanesque sections were renovated in the Gothic style, including the cloister and fountain house. Architectural elements included ogival arches, buttresses and elaborate tracery windows, which increased the effect of the light. Individual sculptured keystones from the rib vault can now be viewed in the monastery museum.

Side walls of the ornate fireplace in the hunting lodge at Hirsau Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Andrea Rachele

Lost Renaissance splendor.

RENAISSANCE

Duke Ludwig von Württemberg commissioned Georg Beer and Heinrich Schickhardt to build him a representative hunting lodge between 1589 and 1592. The three-winged building, built in the Renaissance style, was easily comparable to Beer's other structures: for example, the Neues Lusthaus pleasure palace in Stuttgart or the Collegium Illustre school in Tübingen, today the Wilhelmsstift abbey. Its still-visible and proud tail gable and numerous towers demonstrate the splendor the building once possessed.

Hunting lodge at Hirsau Monastery. Image: Calw Tourist Information

The hunting palace once shone with Renaissance splendor; only walls remain today.

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