Eberbach Abbey - one the largest and most active monasteries in Germany

Categories: Sightseeing, Cultural and History

Eberbach Abbey
Eberbach Abbey

[ source: Wikipedia]

Eberbach Abbey, a former Cistercian monastery located in the Rheingau area near the town of Eltville am Rhein (Eltville am Rhein vacation rentals | Eltville am Rhein travel guide), was established by Bernard of Clairvaux in 1136. The abbey was the first Cistercian monastery on the eastern branch of the Rhine River. It quickly became one of the largest and most active monasteries in Germany, and it was instrumental is the founding of a variety of daughter abbeys in the region.

At the height of its growth, Eberbach Abbey had about 100 monks and over 200 lay brothers who lived and worked here. The abbey was a major financial success, thanks to the cultivation of vineyards and the making of wine on its property. The Eberbach Abbey church contains the graves of 14 members of the family of the Counts of Katzenelnbogen (Katzenelnbogen vacation rentals | Katzenelnbogen travel guide), one of whom is credited with having planted the first Riesling vines in Germany. During the Middle Ages, the abbey had the largest vineyard in Europe with 300 hectares of fields.

Eberbach Abbey might have continued to expand, if fighting associated with the Thirty Years' War had not severely damaged the site. Many precious items were plundered from the church and library, and all of the monks fled the abbey. Only twenty returned in 1635 to rebuild the institution. By the 1700s, Eberbach Abbey was again a financial success, but this period was curtailed by the French Revolutionary Wars. In 1803, the abbey was permanently dissolved. The abbey passed to the state of Prussia in 1866, and it then went through several uses. It functioned as a lunatic asylum until 1873 and then as a prison until 1912.

Today, wine is still produced on abbey land, and Eberbach Abbey continues to draw people to its location. Due to its impressive and intact collection of Romanesque and early Gothic structures, the abbey is considered one of the most important architectural sites in the state of Hesse. American filmgoers might recognize the site as the location used in the filming of The Name of the Rose, which was popular in the U.S. in the mid-1980s. Visitors to Eberbach Abbey can take wine tours of the vineyard, participate in a variety of tours of the abbey itself (regular, group, audio, children, thematic, architectural), and dine in the abbey's restaurant. The abbey also offers rentable spaces for weddings, banquets, receptions, conferences, etc.

Eberbach Abbey is also the primary venue for the Rheingau Musik Festival, an international summer music event. The festival provides an array of experiences, including classical music, children's concerts, jazz, readings, and wine tastings. Performances tied to the music festival take place in various buildings around the abbey's property.

[ source: wikipedia.org ]

About this Article

Rachel Hildebrandt

This travel guide has been written by Rachel Hildebrandt.

Starting with her first trip to Germany at the age of 16, Rachel has traveled, worked, and studied in Germany extensively. Although her first encounter with German culture was in Lower Saxony, since that time the focus of her subsequent work as a freelance historian and translator has shifted eastward. Building on her graduate studies in Dresden, Rachel has worked for a variety of German foundations as a historian and translator, and is currently pursuing research pertaining to the Sorbs in Lusatia (eastern Saxony).

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