Maulbronn Monastery. the Cistercian Heritage in Germany
Maulbronn Monastery is now a small Maulbronn town north to the Alps , the northern border of Germany. The Cistercian Monastery was included into the UNESCO World Heritage list because of three reasons:
-its unique water reservation system;
-the monastery started Gothic style in Europe and greatly influenced the Gothic spread;
-the only remained Cistercian monastery in Europe which preserves Cistercian unique atmosphere and history;
The twelve Cistercian monks started monastery’s construction under donation of the Speyer Bishop and protection of Cistercian Pontiff Eugenius III in 1147. Later Emperor Frederick Barbarossa took the monastery under his protection. Of course, the monks erected fortified edifice totally protected from the outer world and attacks. The walls’ thickness reached 850cm and the monastery had additional inner walls. Such strong isolation aimed to demonstrate the monks’ austerity and seclusion.
Although the monastery was erected in the times of the Holy Roman Empire and reflected Romanesque elements such as spacious and low rooms, wide naves, rectangular chapels etc. the further completions provided in 14 th and 16 th centuries presented mostly Gothic elements. The rooms obtained vaulting entries, gates and ceilings. Later Gothic re-constructions and completions were caused by the monastery owners’ change: for along time it belonged to the Duke Wirttemberg and then became a Protestant school.
Another and, may be, the most significant feature of the monastery is its water reservation system with drainages, water reservoirs and channels. It is interesting that the whole system still remains and is now under protection of the government. Nowadays, although some parts of the Maulbronn monastery are private owned the water reservation system cannot be either changed, re-constructed or improved without official approval.
Although the Maulbronn monastery had numerous owners and was undergone different changes during the centuries it can be still easily recognized as classic Cistercian construction featured by austerity and simplicity of Cistercians’ lifestyle and philosophy. Therefore, the construction has great value as the German historical heritage.