View of Schöntal Monastery

Baroque artistic synthesis on the Jagst riverThe monastery andthe garden

The stately Cistercian monastery is the most well-preserved monastery in northern Württemberg. Charmingly set in the Jagst river valley, its impressive facade and double towers make an immediate impression, symbols of a once thriving and powerful monastery in Hohenlohe.

Effigy of the grave of Sir Götz von Berlichingen in the cloister of Schöntal Monastery

The tomb of Götz von Berlichingen in the cloister.

Maulbronn daughter monastery

Schöntal was created as a daughter monastery to the Maulbronn Cistercian monastery. Free nobleman Wolfram von Bebenburg originally founded the monastery in the mid 12th century in Neusaß south of Schöntal. Soon thereafter, the monastery was moved to nearby Schöntal and re-founded there. The land was provided by the Lords of Berlichingen, for which they were granted burial rights in the cloister. The monastery combines the old and new abbeys as well as the monastery garden, which was partially reconstructed.

Kloster Schöntal, Klosterkirche

View of the choir in the Baroque monastery church.

A traditional order building

The monastery was built in the Middle Ages following the rules of the Cistercian order, which stipulated that the monastery must be situated with a body of water flowing through it. All the structures required for monastery life were grouped around the cloister. The rules of the order also included a simple church without sculptural decor or a high tower. The choir was rectangular. The magnificent double-towered facade was not added until the 18th century.

Aerial view of Schöntal Monastery

Prayers were held in the Kilian Chapel.

Prayer and work were the order of the day

The outbuildings were also included in the monastery plans because the community of monks managed lands and made a living through agriculture. Prayer and mass demanded a great deal of time each day. Therefore, lay brothers and farmers from the area worked in the fields or in the monastery courtyard. They prayed in the Gothic Kilian Chapel at the edge of the monastery grounds, which had been built specifically for them.

Portrait of Abbot Knittel, 1726/27

Abbot Knittel brought Baroque to Schöntal.

Baroque conversion that still characterizes the monastery today

Architectural changes took place in the wake of the Peasants' War and the Thirty Years' War. Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo elements lent the monastery a new appearance; not much remained of the Medieval monastery. Abbot Benedikt Knittel is credited with creating Schöntal’s overall Baroque appearance. After secularization and the dissolution of the monastery, a Protestant theological seminary took up residence in the buildings. Today, the New Abbey houses an educational center for the diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart.

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