Unesco World Heritage Site

Maulbronn Monastery

Maulbronn Monastery, aeroview;  photo: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer
Authenticity all around

The area around the monastery

Apart from the monastery complex, the surrounding landscape, dominated 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

Wine-growing – an important part of monastery life.

An independent business

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. Naturally, the 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

The Elfinger Hof grange.

Cistercians as big land owners

The Cistercians supported themselves primarily through handicrafts, agriculture and livestock breeding. 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 and farming work, in exchange for which their prayer times were reduced.

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

The monastery mill is used today to accommodate seminary students.

Early engineering achievement: the water system

Cistercians were famed for their mastery of water management. Witness to this is the extensive system of artificially created waterways around the monastery. Construction of the water system commenced in the 12th century and it was extended in subsequent centuries. Cistercians regulated the water in the nearby Tiefe See lake using a special draining system, which also drove the mill inside the monastery walls. Diverting the course of the river Salzach created a drainage channel.

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

Today, you can walk along the “Eppinger Lines.”

The Eppingen Lines, an 86 kilometre long defence trench, were also within the Maulbronn cultural landscape. Margrave Ludwig Wilhelm von Baden-Baden used enforced labour to have the trench built between 1695 and 1697 in order to stop raids by the French during the Palatinate war of succession. The Eppingen Lines can be walked along a route of the same name which stretches more than 40 kilometres from Eppingen to Mühlacker, with information about its history along the way.

Other highlights of Maulbronn Monastery