Unesco World Heritage Site

Maulbronn Monastery

Interior of the chapter house at Maulbronn Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Steffen Hauswirth
A PLACE FOR MONASTIC COMMUNICATION

THE CHAPTER HOUSE

A space for the monastic community and near the monastery church. The monks gathered here, in the chapter house, to discuss matters affecting the order as well as personal matters. The space was established between 1270 and 1300, when the east cloister was being renovated.

Painted vaults in the chapter house at Maulbronn Monastery. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Lutz Hecker

Ornate columns in the chapter house.

PRESENTABLE AND FUNCTIONAL

The chapter house was a prestigious meeting place within the monastery and was designed accordingly. Three round pillars support the Gothic stellar vault. Large tracery windows open the space toward the east cloister. The attached chapel oriel, originally accessible from two staircases, was significantly altered in the 19th century. It takes its name, "chapter house", from its function: a place for monks to gather daily in order to hear a reading from the chapters of the monastic rules.

Capital with eight birds in the chapter house at Maulbronn Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Julia Haseloff

Unusual: Birds as capital adornment.

OF FLORA AND FAUNA: DECOR

The room's decor is particularly remarkable: The paintings are from around 1517, executed in chalky red ocher, a pigment created by combining clay, chalk and iron oxide. They depict the Instruments of the Passion and very accurately rendered vines. The four Evangelists, the lamb of God and a trumpet-sounding archangel are depicted on the vault keystones. The bird capital is also quite interesting: it depicts a total of eight birds.

TIPP

What are the Instruments of the Passion? They are weapons, instruments of torture or other objects related to the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. For example, the drawings depict: a chalice and crown of thorns, a hammer, pincers, sponge, lance, rock and dice.