The former Cistercian abbey of Maulbronn is not only the most complete and best-preserved monastic complex north of the Alps, it is also aparticularly representative example of medieval architecture.
Construction of the monastery began in 1147, and its triple-naved Romanesque basilica was dedicated to the Virgin Mary in 1178. The monks’ chancel is made from oak and furnished with richly decorated choir stalls. At the start of the 13th century, the church acquired a triple-naved portico, also known as ‘Paradise’. Built in a style characteristic of the transition from the Romanesque to the Gothic period, its wide double arches open onto the courtyard. To this day, the abbey courtyard is surrounded by a fortified wall, which incorporates a number of towers, living quarters and outbuildings. In 1556 the abbey was converted into a Protestant monastery school, attended by such historic figures as Johannes Kepler, Hermann Hesse and Friedrich Hölderlin.