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Unesco World Heritage Site

Maulbronn Monastery

Abbot Johann Entenfuß's coat of arms in the former abbot's house at Maulbronn Monastery. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, credit unknown
GREEDY FOR GOLD

DOCTOR FAUSTUS

His stay at Maulbronn is one of the most popular stories about the monastery: The wasteful abbot, Entenfuß, tasked the alchemist with creating gold. This does not seem to have helped much however, as the abbot was dismissed for mismanagement.

Exterior of Faust tower at Maulbronn Monastery. Image: Staatsanzeiger für Baden-Württemberg, Eberhard Späth

Faust tower.

AN ABBOT GOES ASTRAY

Faust tower in the southeast corner of the monastery is named after Doctor Faustus, the miracle healer and alchemist. He is said to have lived here in 1516 and, according to the legend, he created gold for Abbot Johann Entenfuß. Entenfuß, spiritual leader of the Maulbronn monks between 1512 and 1518, was a "collega" (associate) of Doctor Faustus, at least according to the abbot's account. Despite his gold-making business with the alchemist however, the wasteful abbot was unlucky and was finally dismissed for "poor management".

Gothic window in the lay corridor at Maulbronn Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Julia Haseloff

Pleasing shapes give wing to flights of fancy.

HISTORIC FIGURES AND LITERARY CHARACTERS

Johann Georg Faust was born around 1480, most likely in Knittlingen, near Maulbronn. A traveling miracle healer, alchemist, astrologist and fortune teller, he appears in historical sources. Overall, little is known about him and the dramatic events surrounding his death—he is said to have died in an explosion while conducting chemical experiments. This certainly contributed to the numerous myths surrounding him and inspired poets such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

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