Gengenbach Abbey

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Gengenbach, Germany

Gengenbach Abbey Reviews

Kathrin_E Kathrin_E
371 reviews
Gengenbach Abbey Jan 26, 2017
Gengenbach's history begins with the foundation of the Benedictine abbey in the 8th century. The early history is a bit diffuse, the legendary date of the foundation is 725 A.D. Around 800/820 the abbey was property of the Emperor and the largest monastery in the Ortenau region. The middle ages were the 'golden era' of the abbey. From the 15th century onwards things went slowly slowly downwards. Nevertheless a large new convent building was erected around 1700 while the Romanesque abbey church remained and just received a refurbishment inside. The tall baroque steeple, a landmark in the townscape together with the defence towers of the city, was added in 1712-1714.

The facades of the church show its Romanesque structure with some baroque additions, for example the curved ornaments on the southern gable. The interior underwent another thorough refurbishment in the late 19th century, the era of historism, which removed all baroque additions aiming to reconstruct the medieval interior. Hence most of the interior is neo-romanesque or neogothic, including the frescoes and the flat ceiling.

Being a Reichsabtei (imperial abbey) the monastery had the status of an independent state within the Holy Roman Empire. The settlement that developed around the abbey gained the status of a free imperial city in the 14th century.

Since then, until 1803, there were two states within the walls of Gengenbach. The division is still recognizable in the structure of the town. The abbey district had its own defence walls. A former fortification tower behind the church was turned into a garden pavillon for the abbot in the 18th century, hence it is known as Prälatenturm.

The monastery's history ended with the secularization of 1803. The abbey was closed down, its grounds became property of Baden. The church became the catholic parish church of the town. The former convent building is now used by a part of Offenburg university of applied sciences and cannot be visited, but a walk around it is worthwhile for the facades and the baroque gardens.
Abbey church and convent building
Gengenbach Abbey
Gengenbach Abbey
Gengenbach Abbey
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photo by: Kathrin_E