Reichenau Abbey in Lake Constance

Friday, 10 September 2021 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, UNESCO World Heritage
Reading Time:  3 minutes

Cloisters Reichenau © Schlampi/cc-by-sa-3.0

Cloisters Reichenau © Schlampi/cc-by-sa-3.0

Reichenau Abbey was a Benedictine monastery on Reichenau Island (known in Latin as Augia Dives). It was founded in 724 by the itinerant Saint Pirmin, who is said to have fled Spain ahead of the Moorish invaders, with patronage that included Charles Martel, and, more locally, Count Berthold of the Ahalolfinger and the Alemannian Duke Santfrid I (Nebi). Pirmin’s conflict with Santfrid resulted in his leaving Reichenau in 727. Under his successor Haito the monastery began to flourish. It gained influence in the Carolingian dynasty, under Abbot Waldo of Reichenau (740–814), by educating the clerks who staffed Imperial and ducal chanceries. Abbot Reginbert of Reichenau (-846) built up the important book collection. Abbot Walafrid Strabo (842–849), who was educated at Reichenau, was renowned as a poet and Latin scholar.

The Abbey stood along a main north–south highway between Germany and Italy, where the lake passage eased the arduous route. The Abbey of Reichenau housed a school, and a scriptorium and artists’ workshop, that has a claim to having been the largest and artistically most influential centre for producing lavishly illuminated manuscripts in Europe during the late 10th and early 11th centuries, often known as the Reichenau School. An example of the scriptorium’s production is the Pericopes of Henry II, made for the Emperor, now in Munich. Reichenau has preserved its precious relics, which include the pitcher from the wedding at Cana.

Monastery and cloisters of Reichenau © Hilarmont/cc-by-sa-3.0-de St Georg church © Dietrich Krieger/cc-by-sa-3.0 South East Reichenau Island © Christoph Wagener/cc-by-sa-3.0 West Reichenau Island © Christoph Wagener/cc-by-sa-3.0 Cloisters Reichenau © Schlampi/cc-by-sa-3.0 East Reichenau Island © Christoph Wagener/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Monastery and cloisters of Reichenau © Hilarmont/cc-by-sa-3.0-de
The Abbey reached its apex under Abbot Berno of Reichenau (1008–48). During his time, important scholars, such as Hermannus Contractus, lived and worked in Reichenau. In the second half of the 11th century, the cultural importance of the Abbey started to wane owing to the restrictive reforms of Pope Gregory VII, and also to rivalry with the nearby St. Gall; in 1540, the Bishop of Constance, an old rival of the Reichenau abbots, became lord of Reichenau, and, under the control of the succeeding bishops, the abbey’s significance dwindled.

When the abbey lands were secularized (initially in 1757 and permanently in 1803) and the monks disbanded under Napoleon, part of Reichenau’s famed library was preserved in the state library (Landesbibliothek) at Karlsruhe. The Geographus Bavarus and several other important documents may be found in the Bavarian State Library in Munich. Since 2001 a small community of Benedictines has been re-established at Niederzell (Sts. Peter and Paul).

Read more on Wikivoyage Reichenau, Wikipedia Reichenau Island and Wikipedia Reichenau Abbey (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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