Monks have been praying in Tholey Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in the municipality of Tholey, for 1,400 years. 2008 almost saw the abbey close. Almost. Today, 13 monks live here, and the abbey has become a spiritual hub and conference venue. It is open to anybody seeking inner peace in silence and a return to their true self.
The Baroque tower of the abbey church dominates the skyline in Tholey and can be seen from afar. The interior of the abbey church boasts mighty pillars, ceiling frescos, various carvings and stone sculptures, as well as windows recounting stories from the Bible in their glass. Abstract, modern, contemporary: appropriate for an abbey that focuses on religion and tradition, yet has survived throughout the centuries.
Although it all looked a little different back in 2008. The place was outdated, younger monks kept their distance and the abbey's structure was ramshackle. But, rather than the end being nigh, the abbey experienced a rebirth. Monks from all over the world now live a spiritual life here in the abbey, in accordance with the Order of Saint Benedict – which values altruism, prayer and work. They lead a life of silence, interrupted only during mealtimes by a monk who reads aloud. And yet Germany's oldest abbey is open to the outside world. Rooms are available to hire for conferences and seminars. Visitors can also sample monastic life in the Gästehaus St. Lioba guest house in Tholey, and experience a day in the life of a monk, including daily prayers and communal meals for those who are interested in this option. If you're lucky, you might even be treated to Michelin-starred cuisine when the abbot, formerly a chef in a top restaurant, takes to the kitchen.