I found the Benedictine Abbey of Maria Laach in a ranking of the 10 most beautiful monasteries in Germany. I consider this type of ranking quite relative when it comes to a land with such a large territory like Germany. The number of 10 for any kind of objects could not be reliable. In my view, a list of upwards of 30 positions could be a bit more representative and real. And yet, the abbey church of Maria Laach is considered to be one of the most beautiful Romanesque buildings on German territory.
And yet, the Abbey Church of Maria Laach is considered to be one of the most beautiful Romanesque buildings on German territory.
The Abbey was erected between 1093 and 1216 as Abbatia ad Lacum – ‘abbey on a lake’, as it stands on the shore of the Lake Laach. The construction was initiated by the first Count Palatine of the Rhine, Heinrich II von Laach, who took the name of his Laach Castle facing the abbey. The first monks to settle here were from St. Maximin in Trier.
The narthex, called here Paradies, dates from 1220 and is the only one preserved in Europe north of the Alps. In principle, it is typical of the Eastern Orthodox churches.
In 1932, in the courtyard is placed the Lion Fountain crafted by a local monk.
The interior of the church has a quite modern appearance as in 1802, during the Secularization, almost all of its furnishing pieces got lost. Maybe that’s why I was a bit disappointed with my visit to Maria Laach, in the view of the ranking where I have found it. When it is said that something is beautiful, the first thing that comes to mind is the notion of Baroque or Rococo style or something along these lines – that is my definition of ‘beautiful’.
Yet here, it is about a whole different architectural style and another historical period that have to be treated with due attention.
One of the original things that have been preserved is the Ciborium dating from 1256, which is considered to be one of its kind, and its art style is presumably hard to categorize – it is relatively defined as a Late Romanesque-Baroque.
In 1926, Pope Pious XI granted the abbey church the title Basilica minor, which clearly shows the great significance of this temple.