Monastic Island of Reichenau
Monastic Island of Reichenau ©Tourist-Information Reichenau

Monastic Island of Reichenau

Three Romanesque churches from the 9th to the 11th century attest to the significance of the former Benedictine abbey on the Monastic Island of Reichenau in Baden-Württemberg. Founded in 724, it quickly developed into one of the most important monasteries in southern Germany. The monastic tradition can still be seen today in the unique religious festivals and processions that take place on the island.

The monastery itself was dissolved in 1803 and today the building serves as the town hall for the district of Reichenau. The actual UNESCO World Heritage site comprises the three Romanesque churches on the island, which were intellectual outposts of the western world at the time of the Carolingians and Ottonians. Their wall paintings show how significant Reichenau was as an artistic centre during the 10th and 11th century. The triple-naved Minster of St. Mary and St. Mark, formerly the monastery church, is today a Catholic parish church. In the St. Peter and Paul Church, consecrated in 799, the magnificent organ and Romanesque paintings are well worth seeing. Even older are the monumental Ottonian murals in the Church of St. George, the sole surviving example north of the Alps of a church interior from the 10th century that has been painted in its entirety. Another significant artefact from the artistic history of the High Middle Ages are the unique Reichenau manuscripts with their narrative illustrations of the New Testament and the lives of Jesus and the Gospels. In 2003 the monastery's illuminated manuscripts were entered into UNESCO's Memory of the World register. These amazing works can be seen in the Reichenau Museum, where other exhibits show the construction history of the cathedral and the monastery, the poems of the monk Walahfrid Strabo, the Plan of Saint Gall, which was drawn on Reichenau, and other chapters from history.

Opening times, tours and tips

Opening times

Reichenau Museum: April to October open daily; November to March: Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays

Guided tours

Tours of: Minster of St. Mary and St. Mark in Reichenau-Mittelzell, including the Schatzkammer (treasury); St. George's Church in Reichenau-Oberzell; and the Church of St. Peter and Paul in Reichenau-Niederzell


25 April: Festival of St. Mark: religious holiday commemorating the events of 830 when Radolf of Verona brought the remains of St. Mark to the then famous Benedictine abbey of Reichenau.

1 June 2015: Festival of the Holy Blood: the festival refers back to 925 when an abbots' cross appeared on the island covered in blood-soaked earth from Golgatha (first Monday after Whit Monday)

15 August: Assumption of Mary: the patrons of Reichenau minster, St. Mary and St. Mark, are honoured on the third of the island's religious holidays, which is also Reichenau World Heritage day

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