A historically significant abbey in scenic surroundings

Hirsau Monastery

Vault in the Chapel of St. Mary at Hirsau Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Andrea Rachele
A PLACE FOR THE SICK AND THE INQUISITIVE

THE CHAPEL OF ST. MARY

In addition to the auxiliary buildings, the Chapel of St. Mary is the only monastery building to have survived the destruction of 1692. The tall, two-story structure built in the late Gothic style once served as a chapel for the sick and as a library. Today, it is Hirsau's Protestant parish church.

Exterior of the Chapel of St. Mary at Hirsau Monastery. Image: Calw Tourist Information

The chapel was built in the 16th century.

A SIGN OF PROSPERITY

The monastic reforms that began in 1450 brought an economic and spiritual revival to Hirsau. As a result, Abbot Johannes II was able to build the chapel for the sick between 1508 and 1516. The architect, Martin von Urach, placed the chapel east of the chapter house and north of the infirmary. Like many other reformed Benedictine monasteries, including Alpirsbach Monastery, he followed the example of Cluny Abbey in France. The chapel for the sick was dedicated to St. Mary, a further emulation of Cluny Abbey.

Exterior of the Chapel of St. Mary at Hirsau Monastery. Image: Calw Tourist Information

It was reconstructed in the Gothic Revival style in 1888.

LATER CHANGES

Between 1888 and 1892, the Chapel of St. Mary was redesigned in the Gothic Revival style. The arched ceiling, which had been removed in the 18th century, was reincorporated. The extension to the west side, visible from the exterior, with rose windows and two flanking stair towers, is also from that period. The four tombs inside are original to the monastery; one contains the body of the chapel's builder, Abbot Johannes II, who had himself interred in front of the altar.

Interior of the Chapel of St. Mary at Hirsau Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Corinna Greb

Lavish church interior with late Gothic net vaults.

A LAVISH INTERIOR

The impressive interior of the Chapel of St. Mary boasts harmonious colors, ceiling frescoes and a wooden pulpit. The colorful windows by Württemberg stained-glass artist Wolf-Dieter Kohler were inserted into the Gothic windows as part of the 1970 renovations. The pilasters are decorated with half-length figures of the twelve apostles, who bear banners on which excerpts of the Apostles' Creed are written.

Apostle on a capital in the Chapel of St. Mary at Hirsau Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Andrea Rachele
Apostle on a capital in the Chapel of St. Mary at Hirsau Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer
Apostle on a capital in the Chapel of St. Mary at Hirsau Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Andrea Rachele

The twelve surviving apostolic corbels are original to the church.

Library in the Chapel of St. Mary at Hirsau Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Library with bookshelves on the second floor of the chapel.

LIBRARY ON THE SECOND FLOOR

In medieval monasteries, libraries were frequently housed in an armarium, or book chamber. These were typically located on the ground level near the vestry. In the 15th century, at which point monastic libraries were considerably more extensive, the library was often on the second floor of a Chapel of St. Mary. This was for two reasons: the Chapel of St. Mary, as the chapel for the sick, was often located directly next to the chapter house, the church and the infirmary, and the books were safer on the second floor.

Mehr erfahren

Monuments & functions
Art & spaces
Stylistic eras

Please select a maximum of 5 keywords.