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Baroque gem and Götz von Berlichingen's burial place

Schöntal Monastery

The double towers of the Baroque church, Schöntal Monastery. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Sven Grenzemann
Ornate Baroque framework for mass

The monastery church

The Baroque double-towered facade and the splendid decor in Schöntal’s monastery church are quite striking. However, they do not correspond to the Cistercian's requisite simple design. Abbot Knittel, the builder, had his own ideas in the early 18th century.

Double-towered Baroque church, Schöntal Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Visible from afar: the double towers of the monastery church.

Abbot Knittel drives church construction forward

Abbot Knittel tasked architect Johann Leonhard Dientzenhofer with planning the monastery church. Even though he died in 1707, it was possible to begin construction based on his plans in 1708. Von Dientzenhofer's design included a three-aisled hall church with double towers. Inside, 300 sculptures present iconography around various topics of Christian faith. The decor in the three-aisled hall church was completed by 1727. The completed church was consecrated in 1736.

Interior view of Schöntal's monastery church. Image: Staatsanzeiger für Baden-Württemberg, Anja Stangl

Anything but modest: the Baroque church.

The Baroque church space

Everything in the Baroque monastery church is coordinated: the frescoes, the stucco ornamentation, the sculptures and the alabaster altars; the decor offers a magnificent setting for religious services. The high altar in the choir is the highlight of the architectural scene. For Abbot Knittel and his monks, the decorative church space was representative of the flourishing monastery, a far cry from the Cistercian mandate of simplicity.

The high altar in the choir room of Schöntal's monastery church. Image: Foto Besserer

The interior is an artistic experience for visitors.

Familiar artworks

The Eye of God that looks down on churchgoers, the holy sepulcher behind the choir screen, or the high altar depicting the assumption of Mary, are some of the familiar artworks. Portraits of historical figures are also on display, such as the life-size monuments to monastery benefactor Wolfram von Bebenburg and Emperor Friedrich I Barbarossa. Two likewise giant bronze sculptures, cast in Nuremberg between 1424 and 1428, are of Konrad von Weinsberg and his wife, Anna.

Sun-crowned Madonna on the roof of Schöntal's monastery church. Image: Foto Besserer

The sun-crowned Madonna tops the roof.

Impressive architecture inside and out

The richly decorated entryway under the stately towers and the group of animals on the north facade are two examples of the impressive exterior facade. A sun-crowned Madonna tops the church roof and turns in the wind. The Baroque monastery church, which, with the exception of the three organs, has been spared large-scale changes or damage, became a Catholic parish church in 1807.

Cupola of Schöntal's monastery church. Image: Foto Besserer

View of the monastery church’s cupola.

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