Unesco World Heritage Site

Maulbronn Monastery

Interior of the early Gothic narthex (Paradise) at Maulbronn Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, credit unknown
MASTERPIECES BETWEEN ROMANESQUE AND GOTHIC

HISTORY OF DESIGN

Maulbronn Monastery is home to the first Gothic structures in Germany. They also happen to be especially successful masterpieces. They are some of the earliest examples of this architectural style, which the Cistercians brought with them from France around 1200.

Main entrance to Maulbronn Monastery's church, with ornamental mountings. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Romanesque main entrance with iron mountings.

FROM ROMANESQUE TO EARLY GOTHIC

Little remains from the time of the monastery's founding in the mid-12th century. This makes early examples, such as the choir stalls in the church all the more precious. Their rounded arches are indicative of their Romanesque origin. The church doors and their iron mountings from around 1178 are an absolute rarity. The early Gothic style began just after 1200, around the time when the artist known as the "architect of Paradise" came to Maulbronn. The Romanesque monastery church had already been built.

Row of columns in the narthex at Maulbronn Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, credit unknown

Column cluster in the narthex.

EARLY GOTHIC HIGHLIGHTS

Prominent new buildings were now added to the monastery and still demonstrate Maulbronn's elevated position to this day. The Paradise, the church's narthex, is one of the most beautiful spaces from this period. Load-bearing architectural features terminate in column clusters. "Engaged columns"—narrow supports placed in front of the wall—seem to carry the ribs and arches of the wide vault. The early Gothic architect employs them at various heights so that they almost create a diagram of the loads placed upon them.

The cloister at Maulbronn Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Günther Bayerl

Typical Gothic style: diagonal ribs.

FROM EARLY TO LATE GOTHIC

The monk's refectory, a tall and airy hall, is also one of the best examples of early Gothic architecture. Other structures remain from this period, including the south wing of the cloister and the lay refectory. The rest of the cloister, the monks' dormitory on the upper floor and the chapter house with its elaborate ribbed vault originate from the late 13th to mid-14th century. The sophisticated net vault in the connecting structure is typical of late Gothic architecture.

Lancet window in the cloister at Maulbronn Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Julia Haseloff

Late Gothic style in a cloister window.

Exterior of lay refectory, Maulbronn Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Julia Haseloff

19th-century Romanesque Revival arched window.

MEDIEVAL IN THE 19TH CENTURY

The 19th century saw a renewed enthusiasm for the architectural styles of the past. As a medieval monument, Maulbronn became the central focus. Architects of the time finished incomplete structures, or those that had been altered over time, so that they met their medieval ideal. For example, the upper floor of the lay refectory was added in the 1890s. The rounded arches of this 19th century structure were inspired by Romanesque originals.

Mehr erfahren

Stylistic eras

Please select a maximum of 5 keywords.