A fairy tale? If it is, it's certainly a modern one: by 1990 it had all but fallen into ruin. Today, Volkenroda Abbey is not just a reconstructed architectural miracle, it has become a meeting place, a place of spiritual guidance and humanity, contemporary and therapeutic in our often so demanding and stressful world.
Instead of monks, the Brotherhood of Jesus now live in Volkenroda Abbey, which was founded in 1131 by the Cistercians and is situated near Mühlhausen in Thuringia. The brotherhood includes men and women from different denominations and with various social backgrounds. Prayer, community, work and mankind are what bring them together. They aim to offer support to people going through major crises or depression with their "monastic stay" packages. Their spiritual guidance offerings and the "Ausweg" (Way Out) meditative walk help visitors find new hope in many situations in which it seems there is no way out.
The Christ Pavilion is another place with the spirit of mankind in mind. Designed for Expo 2000 in Hanover, it has since been erected at Volkenroda Abbey. It is a modern counterpart to the abbey church, which happens to be the oldest Cistercian abbey church in Germany still standing today. In keeping with Cistercian traditions, in which light is important because they believe it touches the human soul, the interior of the Christ Pavilion is bathed in a special light. With its unusual cloister, the nine chambers for meditation and the impressive sacred space, it responds to the longing for a special place where visitors can find peace of mind.
Accommodation: various options available. For more information, visit: www.kloster-volkenroda.de
Nearest train station: Erfurt
Monastic stays (7 days up to a maximum of 12 weeks); meditative walk at the Christ Pavilion; personalised spiritual guidance packages available upon request