Actually, that is a contradiction in terms: how can a Benedictine abbey be romantic? But in Stein am Rhein it works. Already since 1525 no monks live in the former Benedictine monastery, when the monastery was abolished as a result of the Reformation. Since then, it changed hands several times and has been owned by the Swiss Confederation since 1945. The amazing thing about this monastery is that, despite its history, it has survived the times so well. We visited the monastery at our stay in Stein am Rhein, The Benedictine abbey of St. Georgen is considered one of the best preserved monastery complexes in Switzerland. Until today you can see the different construction phases between the 12. and 16. Recognize the century. Most impressed us the beautiful location on the Rhine and the almost enchanted impression left by the courtyards, the cloister and the inner rooms. Old stone walls, where wine is high, lush flowering lavender and roses that exude an intense scent, slit windows, through whose blurred glass we can see the flow of the Rhine and wonderfully preserved ceiling paintings and carvings contribute to this.
In the old trotte, we find large wooden wine barrels and an impressive press, with which the monks once pressed the wine from the area. At the opposite guesthouse, a wooden staircase leads up to the railing, where dense greenery winds along. On the outer wall of the back house emblazoned a bishop's cap with a crosier, next to the two cherubs present coat of arms-like signs. Above the entrance to the inner cloister courtyard, two almost human-looking lions on a mural raise a crown and a blazon, and above them the year 1665 commemorates an event in the history of this monastery.
Before we enter the monastery, a side entrance lures us through a door with Gothic pointed arch out to the Rhine. The river flows here with visible force directly along the outer walls of the monastery. We are standing on a small promenade that extends over to the bridge that connects the two districts of Stein am Rhein on the banks of the Rhine. Strongly fragrant yellow roses line the entrance back to the monastery. And on the outer walls of the inner courtyard grow tall mahogany bushes, whose blue fruits in thick grapes pull down the branches of the plants, and whose leaves catch the raindrops that begin to fall from the sky. Above the outer courtyard rises the tower of the church of Stein am Rhein with its striking gargoyles that spit out the falling rain of rain like dragons.
In the inner courtyard, grapevines climb up on wooden pillars, from which, upon closer inspection, thick grapes are already hanging down. "It will definitely be a good harvest in autumn," I think to myself. A sundial shows the time above it, only that today it only gives an idea of the time due to the lack of shadow. The increasingly thick rain clouds prevent shadows from forming. A half-timbered shed in a corner of the inner courtyard with its wooden beams in the facade, the small glass windows with a thick cactus on their window sills and the weathered wooden shop reinforce the romantic impression that the whole monastery building conveys. Because the rain is falling more and more, we enter the premises of the former monastery and begin a journey through time through the history of the monastery, which extends from the 12th to the 16th century.
Although the tour is not chronologically correct. We start it in the Calefaktorium, the thermal room of the monastery, which is part of the 15. Century comes. However, I wonder how the big room was once heated, because apart from a wooden table, a few cupboards, an altarpiece on the wall and a small niche under a strange cross vault in one corner of the room, there is only a long windowsill, the runs along the entire window front.
From there we step out into the cloister, which is from the 14. Century passes and pass the parlatorium in which the monks were allowed to speak, the summer refectory, the dining room, where the meals were taken in the summer and the bakery. Attractive vaults pull my eyes up again and again, and I discover very well-preserved keystones and ceiling paintings. In addition, the vaulting of the vault is painted to this day, which enhances the effect of the cloister on romantic minds like me.
The cells that we pass are from the 19. Century, when the then owner Ferdinand Vetter restored it. Original preserved is only the monk cell on the northeast corner, on whose walls remains of the original murals can be seen. Opposite one has recreated the scriptorium of the monastery, probably to show what the monks of that time dealt with.
Well preserved is the winter refectory. Here I can well imagine how the monks met every day to eat, while outside the cold wind swept down from the mountains. Outside the windows there is a table in the room, as if he were just waiting for the monks to come in from their work at any moment to settle down for a meal together. I discover wonderfully painted ceiling frescos, a beautiful wooden chest of drawers and a lamp made of wood and deer antlers above the dining table. In an adjoining room we find a green tiled stove whose details made of enamel amaze us.
The last rooms we visited in the monastery are all from the 16. Century and are thus the youngest of the building complex. In the ballroom, which was set up on behalf of the last abbot David von Winkelsheim (1499 - 1525) in the style of the early Renaissance, you will find wonderful murals, which mainly show profane content. For this reason, this hall escaped the iconoclasm in the year 1525, when the monastery was dissolved. The grisaille painting has been expanded to include the colors blue, red and yellow gold and shows wonderfully detailed motifs that accurately depict people and life at that time. Just because of this hall is worth a trip to Stein am Rhein. The art lovers among you will enjoy it.
One floor below are the two Abtsstuben, which show by their equipment how comfortable the abbots lived in the last years of the monastery: window niches with Butzenfenstern, a large tiled stove, which provided for pleasant warmth, beautifully carved finishes in the cross vaults, carved borders which adorn the walls of the rooms, and impressive wall and ceiling paintings made the life of abbots a pleasurable luxury. They give us a pretty good insight into the everyday life of the monks shortly before the Reformation in this monastery.
Our visit to the Klostermuseum St. Georgen was one of the highlights of our trip to the Unterseeregion on Lake Constance and - as we find it - worth the trip. The good insights into the life of the monks between the 12. and 16. Century were one side. Even more impressive we found the works of art that have survived despite the dissolution of the monastery and iconoclasm in its younger rooms to this day. And especially romantic is the layout of the various farms and the location on the banks of the Rhine, which make the monastery a remarkable work of art.
Klostermuseum St. Georgen
The monastery is located about ten minutes walk from the station Stein am Rhein. It is about a five-minute walk from the boat landing stage.
From the beginning of April to the end of October, daily except Monday from 10: 00 to 17: 00 pm
Good Friday, Easter Monday and Whit Monday open.
Closed from November to March.
By appointment, prices on request
Stay you can be good at Bora HotSpa Resort in Radolfzell, which is less than an hour away by public bus.
Do you already know:
- The historic old town of Stein am Rhein
- Discover the most beautiful cities on the Rhine
- Spa on Lake Constance with direct access to the lake
- The Trapp family Salzburg - the real story
- Amber fisherman from Binz
- Heiligenkreuz Abbey and Mayerling Castle for connoisseurs
- Cistercian Monastery Heiligenkreuz
- Which rain jacket is the best?
- Stams Tirol and its sights
Source: own research on site. We would like to thank Tourismus Untersee for inviting us to this trip. Our opinion remains our own.
Text: © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline
Photos: © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline