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Hirsau Abbey

Germany, Calw, Baden-Württemberg

Hirsau Abbey

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The history of Hirsau Abbey begins around the year 830, when Bishop Noting of Vercelli brought the bones of St. Aurelius to Hirsau. Erlafried of Calw, a relative of Bishop Noting who had possessions in the area, ordered the construction of St. Aurelius I in the form of a small hall church, which was then settled by a colony of Benedictine monks. The first monastery existed until around the year 1000. After that, the monastery was uninhabited and decayed.

In 1049, Pope Leo IX. came to Hirsau, ordered the bones of St. Aurelius to be dug up, and ordered his nephew, Adalbert of Calw, to construct a new monastery in the area. Construction work for the new monastery started in 1059, and St. Aurelius II was to be built as a Romanesque basilica with a transept and an apsidal choir. The lifestyle of the abbey‘s monks was regarded as exemplary, which made Hirsau Abbey very popular. Soon, the convent required larger buildings, and the construction of the new Sts Peter and Paul Abbey was commenced in 1089. In May 1091, the new abbey was consecrated and the convent moved there in 1092, while St. Aurelius was turned into a subordinated priory. Sts Peter and Paul Abbey was a Romanesque, three-nave basilica with a transept and a rectangular, multi-nave choir. Its two west towers were only finished in 1120. Between 1476 and 1516, the Romanesque enclosure buildings were replaced by Late Gothic ones. Because of the Reformation, the Benedictine Convent was dissolved in 1536 and Sts Peter and Paul abbey was turned into an Evangelical monastery school. St. Aurelius, on the other hand, was partially demolished , while the remaining church torso was repurposed as a barn.

From 1586 to 1592, the dukes of Württemberg built a small castle next to the former Sts Peter and Paul monastery. After the monastery underwent several changes of ownership  between Catholic and Protestant owners, both castle and abbey were largely destroyed by French troops during the Nine Years‘ War in 1692. While most of the buildings remain only as ruins, the Romanesque  West tower and the Late Gothic Lady chapel are still intact. There were several archeological excavations on the monastery grounds between 1876 and 1989 which provided insights into the construction history of the monastery and lead to the opening of a museum in 1991.



Información de la localidad

Hirsau Abbey
Other monuments and places to visitA part of the building that still belongs to the inventory of the medieval monastery now houses a monastery museum.
Natural HeritageThe monastery lies in the Nature Park Altmühltal
Historical Recreations
Festivals of Tourist InterestThere is a series of concerts every summer, the "Calwer Klostersommer in Hirsau”: klostersommer.de
Tourist OfficeYes
Specialized GuidesYes
Guided visitsYes
AccommodationsHotel Kloster Hirsau: hotel-kloster-hirsau.de
RestaurantsHotel Kloster Hirsau: hotel-kloster-hirsau.de
BibliographyGermania Benedictina 2: Die Männer- und Frauenklöster der Benediktiner in Bayern 1-3, hg. von der Bayerischen Benediktiner-Akademie, München 2014, S. 2229–2230
Monument or place to visitHirsau Abbey
StyleRomanesque and Late Gothic style
TypeMonastic architecture
Epoch11th-12th century/15th-early 16th century
State of conservationGood condition
Mailing addressKloster Hirsau, Klosterhof, 75365 Calw-Hirsau
Coordinates GPS48°44′07″N 8°44′08″O
Property, dependency
Possibility of visits by the general public or only specialists
Guided tours around the former monastery buildings and the museum
Conservation needs
Visiting hours and conditions
Closed from 1st November to 31st March.
From 1st April to 31st October: 1-4 PM during the week
Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays: 12AM-5PM
Ticket amount
2,50 euros for adults, 1,50 euros for children
Prices for tours: klosterhirsau.de

Research work in progress
Signaling if it is registered on the route
Information websitesklosterhirsau.de
LocationCalw, Baden-Württemberg