A historically significant abbey in scenic surroundings

Hirsau Monastery

View toward the Owl Tower at Hirsau Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Andrea Rachele
A REFORM MONASTERY WITH FAR-REACHING INFLUENCE

THE ST. PETER AND

PAUL MONASTERY

Abbot Wilhelm turned Hirsau into an important center of monastic reform. Under his leadership, construction was started on a new monastery and large monastery church. In the late Middle Ages, parts of the Romanesque buildings were redesigned in the late Gothic style.

Intersection and choir room in the Church of St. Peter and Paul with ruins of the All Saints' Chapel at Hirsau Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Andrea Rachele

Built for many monks.

AN ABBOT PROVIDES MORE SPACE

The monastery's splendor under the charismatic Abbot Wilhelm drew many monks to Hirsau around 1080. The Aurelius Monastery soon became too small. Abbot Wilhelm did not witness the move to the new St. Peter and Paul Monastery, but he was at least able to consecrate the new monastery church in 1091. The larger St. Peter and Paul Monastery now accommodated up to 150 monks, as well as a number of lay brothers.

Cloister ruins with a view toward the Chapel of St. Mary at Hirsau Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Andrea Rachele

The monastery became very popular as a result of the reform.

A SECOND BLOOM IN THE 15TH CENTURY

The economic and spiritual decline began as early as the 12th century. Only after joining the reform movement in 1458 did Hirsau experience a second bloom. This spiritual renewal was reflected in the modernization of the Romanesque monastery. First, a new dormitory was created, with generous monks' cells now granting monks their own sleeping rooms. In order to create sufficient space, a new two-story cloister was built in the late Gothic style on the old cloister outline.

Ruins of the fountain house at Hirsau Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Corinna Greb

The fountain house was built in the 15th century.

FAMOUS ARCHITECTS

Hans Spryß von Zaberfeld (1420–1507) is considered the architect of the late Gothic reconstruction. It was under his guidance that the eastern part of the cloister, including the infirmary, the south wing, including the fountain house, and the All Saints' Chapel addition to the north side of the monastery church were built. After Zaberfeld's death, Peter von Koblenz and his colleagues completed the cloister's north wing. At the start of the 16th century, Martin von Urach finally added the Chapel of St. Mary.

Detail of a cloister window at Hirsau Monastery. Image: Calw Tourist Information

Colorful glass decorates the windows.

LAVISH DECOR

The highlights of the cloister's late Gothic furnishings included the figures decorating the vault keystones and the 39 stained-glass windows. Each of the windows corresponded to the 1471 woodcuts from the Bible of the Poor (biblia pauperum) and depicted both biblical scenes as well as several old-testament prophets and banners. Since the windows were largely lost in the 1692 destruction of the church, this iconographic information is taken from descriptions by Protestant Abbot Johannes Karg.

Cloister window at Hirsau Monastery. Image: Calw Tourist Information
Cloister window at Hirsau Monastery. Image: Calw Tourist Information
Cloister window at Hirsau Monastery. Image: Calw Tourist Information

The window iconography can now only be extrapolated based on descriptions.

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