From monastery to top conference hotel in Bavaria
The eventful history of the Schmerlenbach hotel and conference center
There is hardly a conference hotel that stands on such historic ground. The history of the monastery dates back to the 13th century. A lot has happened over the years, and where the Würzburg canon Gottfried von Kugelnberg founded the Schmerlenbach monastery in 1218 is now one of the most modern conference centers in Germany. But one thing has remained the same over the years: the Christian mission statement.
The monastery survived the Peasants' War, the Reformation and the Thirty Years' War almost unscathed. Under Abbess Engelberta von Rodenhausen, the monastery's pilgrimage church was rebuilt in the 18th century. After the death of the last abbess, the convent was dissolved in 1808. In 1812, Schmerlenbach became a parish and the pilgrimage church also became a parish church.
Finally, in the 1980s, the partially dilapidated monastery complex was rebuilt as a conference and education center for the diocese of Würzburg and harmoniously supplemented with new buildings from an ecological point of view. Further information can be found on the Sustainability page.
The story in pictures
As the former monastery buildings were very dilapidated, most of them had to be demolished in 1982. Many of the walls were made of sandstone, some of which was porous and had decomposed to such an extent that the walls and foundations could no longer bear the static load. Many parts of the building were therefore in danger of collapsing and could not be preserved.
The photos show the state of the monastery complex before the new construction from 1982 to 1985:
- The old abbey from the 15th century (right) and the new abbey from the 17th century
- The monastery courtyard around 1930
- A view of the former monastery complex around 1970
- The barn wing on the monastery wall around 1970
- The abbey office building around 1970
- The cloister with tombstones of abbesses around 1970
- The only remaining historic building before the new construction in 1982
The religious and art-historical focal point of the church is the 30-centimetre-high miraculous image of "Our Lady of Schmerlenbach". It is carved from lime wood and dates back to the 14th century. The Gothic Pieta with the mournful and tearful face of Mary has made Schmerlenbach widely known in the saying "You look like the Mother of God of Schmerlebach". A pilgrimage to the miraculous image has been recorded since 1518 and is still very popular today.
Other art-historical features include a clay Madonna in the style of the "Beautiful Madonnas" from the early 15th century and a sandstone relief showing an old depiction of "Mary in the sun".
The pilgrimage church
The current church was built in the middle of the 18th century. It dates back to a predecessor church from the 13th century. The architecture of the pilgrimage church features motifs reminiscent of the great master builder Balthasar Neumann. The hall-like, narrow nave is adjoined by a choir. The ceiling is decorated with paintings dated 1759. In the nave they depict the glorification of St. Benedict, in the choir the Holy Trinity. The altars and pulpit date from the 18th century.