Unesco World Heritage Site

Maulbronn Monastery

Areal view of Maulbronn Monastery; photo: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Achim Mende
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The area around the monastery

Apart from the monastery complex, the surrounding landscape, sculpted by the Cistercians, also makes Maulbronn special. An ingenious water system, vineyards and former farmyards bear authentic witness to monasterial industry.

Maulbronn Monastery vinyards; photo: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Werner Hiller-König

Viticulture – an important part of monastery life

An independent enterprise

Cistercian monasteries were established primarily for religious reasons. However, to maintain their way of life, Cistercian monks were permitted to jointly own stretches of water, forests, vineyards, grassland and property. Cultivating and managing the surrounding landscape thus became a standard aspect of life in a Cistercian Order, as did the principle of self-sufficiency. Subsequently, geographical location was a key factor when founding a monastery.

Maulbronn Monastery, Elfinger Hof grange; photo: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Werner Hiller-König

Elfinger Hof grange

Cistercians as large land owners

The Cistercians supported themselves primarily through handicrafts, agriculture and livestock. In order to manage their estates and accommodate their livestock, they established farms, known as granges, close to the monastery. At the beginning of the 12th century, Maulbronn monastery owned 17 granges. The lay brothers undertook most of the time-consuming manual labor and farming, and in exchange their prayer times were reduced.

Maulbronn Monastery mill; photo: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Today , the monastery mill accommodates seminary students.

Early engineering achievement: the water system

Cistercians were famed for their water management skills. This is evidenced by the extensive system of artificially created waterways around the monastery. Construction of the water system commenced in the 12th century, which was extended in subsequent centuries. Cistercians regulated the water in the nearby Tiefer See lake using a special drain system, which also drove the mill inside the monastery walls. Diverting the course of the Salzach river created a drainage channel.

Maulbronn Monastery, Eppingen Lines; photo: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Carla Müller

Today, you can walk the Eppingen Lines

The Eppingen Lines, an 86-kilometer trench, are also part of the Maulbronn cultural landscape. Margrave Ludwig Wilhelm von Baden-Baden used socage labor to have the trench built between 1695 and 1697 in order to stop French raids during the  Nine Years’ War. The Eppingen Lines can be explored on foot, along a route of the same name, which stretches more than 40 kilometer from Eppingen to Mühlacker, with signs explaining its history along the way.

Other highlights of Maulbronn Monastery