Unesco World Heritage Site

Maulbronn Monastery

Visitors in the cloister at Maulbronn Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Niels Schubert
AT THE CENTER OF THE MONKS' LIFE

THE CLOISTER

The cloister links the most important functional rooms of the monastery: church, chapter house, dormitory and dining hall. It was built in multiple phases and contains many Romanesque and Gothic elements. Reviewing every detail of its history falls to architectural historians.

South cloister at Maulbronn Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Julia Haseloff

South cloister.

EARLY GOTHIC MASTERPIECE: THE SOUTH WING

The master builder and his studio responsible for the Paradise also built the early Gothic south wing in around 1210–1220. This wing of the cloister housed a bench used by the monks during evening reading, hence its name: the reading wing. The south cloister is canopied with a six-part ribbed vault. Narrow arched windows open toward the garden. The expertly worked foliated capitals are particularly striking and can also be seen in the Paradise and monks' refectory.

Corbel vault in the west wing of the cloister at Maulbronn Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Steffen Hauswirth

Corbel vault in the west wing of the cloister.

THE WEST WING: FLORA AND FAUNA IN STONE

The high medieval corbels adorned with plant and animal motifs in the cloister's west wing are also worth a look. Remnants of a reworked wall section indicate a modification in the early 13th century. From here, lay brothers could access their section of the partitioned monastery church through a 15th-century portal.

Visitors to Maulbronn Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Niels Schubert

A feast for the eyes: fascinating Gothic architecture.

CONNECTING STRUCTURES IN THE EAST WING

The east cloister leads to a late Gothic connecting structure with a magnificent net vault. This corridor-like structure originally led to the infirmary, the hospital ward in the eastern courtyard. Lay brother Conrad von Schmie acted as architect. The enthroned Mary with child is depicted on the east wall. Two holy abbots kneel next to her, interpreted as being Benedikt von Nursia and Bernhard von Clairvaux. The mural's symbolism suggests multiple possible uses for the connecting structure: a chapel of St. Mary, a writing room or a library.

THE MONASTERY: NO PLACE FOR THOSE WHO FEEL THE COLD

The staircase in the east wing leads to the dormitories. These were sleeping quarters located on the upper floor, where monks utilized several small rooms as studies and writing rooms. Next door is the calefactory, the warming room, the only heated room in the monastery. A closed fireplace was located below the calefactory and could be accessed from the outside. Warmed air flowed through openings in the ceiling, which could be opened and closed, and into the calefactory above.

Upper floor of the warming house at Maulbronn Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Steffen Hauswirth
Arched ceiling in the calefactory at Maulbronn Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Julia Haseloff

Only a single room in the monastery was heated.