"Ora et labora" (pray and work): the Cistercian monks had a massive influence over life at Maulbronn Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Northern Black Forest, for more than 400 years. Visitors can still pray there today, and experience history up close.
The history of the medieval monastery is as unique as the building itself. Founded in the 12th century with a Roman Catholic Cistercian church and enclosure, Maulbronn evolved into a sizeable monastic complex in various architectural styles over the centuries. It was a centre of power, and you can still sense the fascination surrounding it today. Especially given its treasures, such as the Madonna of Maulbronn, a precious Madonna with child figure in the church's chancel. The crucifix hewn from one single slab of stone is also unique. As are the works of art with stories to tell, such as the oak relief on the high altar or the Gothic choir stall, a masterpiece in woodcraft depicting countless animals and mythical creatures.
And when it comes to tales, the story behind "Herrgottsbscheißerle", or Swabian ravioli, comes from Maulbronn Monastery, where monks are said to have invented them. As meat was forbidden on Fridays and during Lent, they chopped it up finely and hid it with herbs in a pasta dough. Apparently God noticed but allowed it anyway, with a wink.
Opening hours: 1 March to 31 October: Monday to Sunday, 9am to 5:30pm; 1 November to 28 February: 9:30am to 5pm; closed on 24/25/31 December; open between 1pm and 5pm on 1 January
Nearest train station: Stuttgart
Accessible; group tours available in English, French, Italian and Russian by prior arrangement