Unesco World Heritage Site

Maulbronn Monastery

Maulbronn Monastery at night. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Günther Bayerl
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THE FOUNDING STORY

The founding of Maulbronn Monastery 850 years ago is an integral part of monastery tradition. According to the story, a hinny is responsible for finding the perfect location for the monastery, specifically, a spot with a water source. Interestingly, similar stories are common across other monasteries.

Young hinny. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Angela Paysan

A hinny: the symbol of the monastery's founding.

A HINNY FINDS THE SPOT

Sir Walter von Lomersheim loaded the hinny with a bag of money and let the animal carry it. Wherever it stopped to drop the load, he would build a monastery. Along the way, the hinny stopped at the site of the current monastery and struck at the rock, bringing water to the surface. Another version of the story says that monks took a hinny with them on their journey and erected a monastery where it stopped to drink.

WHAT'S IN A NAME?

The monastery's name, Maulbronn, seems to support the founding story. The historic place name on record is actually "Mulenbrunnen", indicating the location of the monastery on a spring ("brunnen") and by a mill (a form of "mulen"). It is unclear whether the site was named after a mill located on the foundation site itself, or after a different mill further downstream. Either way, water was an important economic requirement for a successful monastery settlement.

Three-tiered fountain in the fountain house at Maulbronn Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer
Fresco depicting a hinny in the fountain house at Maulbronn Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Steffen Hauswirth

A hinny depicted in the fountain house vault at Maulbronn Monastery.

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