Kloster Großcomburg

Kloster Großcomburg

This monastery complex dominates a round hill in this region, overlooking farms and the town of Schwäbisch Hall, which is worth a visit as well. Like most monasteries and castles, it includes buildings and structures from different points in history. Today, many of the buildings are used for teacher training. You can wander the grounds for free, and visit the inside of the cathedral for a small fee, as part of a guided tour only. It’s worth noting that ‘Kloster’ means monastery in German, so you will see many signs for ‘Kloster Großcomburg’. Together with Schwäbisch Hall, this makes for a great adventure from Munich or Frankfurt, that will be much less busy than some of the more famous castles and medieval towns in the area.

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The grounds are gorgeous, even in the snow.

The grounds are gorgeous, even in the snow.

My son running into the monastery gates

My son running into the monastery gates

The buildings run the gamut from Romanesque to Baroque.

The buildings run the gamut from Romanesque to Baroque.

History of the Comburg monastery

This area of Germany was ruled by the Counts of Comburg/Rothenburg (yes, of Rothenburg ob der Tauber fame), and this monastery was originally founded on the ruins of one of their castles in 11th century. It began as a Benedictine monastery, and only admitted monks of noble birth. The monks really stuck to this rule, through a period of Benedictine reform and everything.

Watch for this archway leading to the central church.

Watch for this archway leading to the central church.

These manicured gardens are lovely under snow too.

These manicured gardens are lovely under snow too.

Beautiful courtyards are around every corner.

Beautiful courtyards are around every corner.

The monastery community went through a few ups and downs. During the Thirty Years War, the Abbey remained undamaged, but passed into the hands of the King of Sweden and then again into a local Duke’s possession.

By the time the second half of the 19th century rolled around, the buildings served as a convalescent home for soldiers no longer able to fight. During the Second World War, it was a headquarters for Hitler Youth and a prisoner of war camp. Now, it is a teacher training college.

Doesn't it look a bit like a castle from a distance?

Doesn’t it look a bit like a castle from a distance?

My favourite use of the monastery, however, was as a secondary palace by Paul von Württemberg at the beginning of the 19th century. He was in the middle of an argument with his father about supporting the French during the Napoleonic Wars, and withdrew to Comburg in a bit of a snit. He and his wife lived there for a few years, in the end making up with his father and then spending most of the rest of his life living in Paris.

The impressive 17th-century outer wall. You can walk all the way around the monastery.

The impressive 17th-century outer wall. You can walk all the way around the monastery.

The outer ring wall

One of the first things you encounter on visiting the monastery is the impressive ring wall. It was built in the 1600s. Erasmus Neustetter held various high-ranking positions in the area and monastery, and had this wall built. He had a tempestuous relationship with other church figures, and it seems he spent his later years holed up in Comburg, avoiding conflict. It’s a beautiful spot to hide away, I have to say. Visiting now, you can walk all around the complex along the ring wall, with arrow slits providing little views over the countryside. There is only one way to access the wall however, so once you’re up there, you have to do the full circle or turn back.

One of my favourite photos from this visit, my son exploring the outer wall.

One of my favourite photos from this visit, my son exploring the outer wall.

The central church

This is still a functioning Catholic church, and you can attend services on Sundays. If you’d like to see the interior, be sure to check the monastery’s site for times – it can only be viewed on a guided tour. If you miss this, as we did, it’s still a lovely place to see from the outside. We spent about an hour and a half here just wandering around, which has the added benefit of also being free. Inside the church is one of the largest surviving Romanesque chandeliers, a 12th-century gold altar piece, and extensive Baroque organ and interiors to see.

The entrance to the monastery

The entrance to the monastery

Love all this little passages around the monastery complex.

Love all this little passages around the monastery complex.

The view from the arrow slits in the outer wall.

The view from the arrow slits in the outer wall.

Visiting the Kloster Großcomburg

There is a bus route that will take you from Schwäbisch Hall up to the monastery, or if you choose to drive, there is free parking. There is a very small cafe at the monastery, mostly catering to the students from the training college, so if you visit on a weekend or when the college is closed, you will want to bring your own snacks. If you’re toting a stroller, it’s not too bad in most places, but there are stairs up to the ring wall, and that would be a challenging walk with a buggy. The monastery is definitely worth visiting in conjunction with a trip to Schwäbisch Hall, which I’ve described in more detail here, but it wouldn’t be much more than an afternoon’s entertainment on its own. Like Schwäbisch Hall, you can reach the monastery in about two and a half hours from Frankfurt or Munich. By train, it’s about three hours from either Munich or Frankfurt, involving a change or two of trains as Schwäbisch Hall is on a smaller branch line, and then a bus up to the monastery.

You can book your train right here, in English:



Even the outbuildings are beautiful.

Even the outbuildings are beautiful.

PS – If you’re thinking about visiting some castles in Germany, I have you covered!

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13 Comments

  1. Clare Thomson
    9 March 2018 / 6:33 pm

    What an atmospheric monastery to visit, Erin! It’s very beautiful. I bet your son loved exploring around here. I know my two would adore a half day here. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

    • erinehm
      Author
      12 March 2018 / 10:10 pm

      Yes he did. Though I think the snow was almost as much as a draw as the monastery. 😉 He always enjoys high up arrow slits though.

  2. 9 March 2018 / 7:56 pm

    This looks like a lovely day out. The snow makes it look very magical. I’m always trying to take photos from the arrow slots, but they never turn out as well as your did. #farawayfiles

    • erinehm
      Author
      12 March 2018 / 10:12 pm

      I think this is the first arrow slit photo that’s worked out! After a little coaxing in Lightroom of course. 😉

      • 12 March 2018 / 10:16 pm

        Love Lightroom!

  3. 11 March 2018 / 9:59 pm

    I’ve never heard of this monastery but it’s definitely pretty!! I love the medieval walls! They reminds me of Rothenburg ob der Tauber! Will have to check this out! #FarawayFiles

    • erinehm
      Author
      11 March 2018 / 10:02 pm

      Yes! The walls are just like Rothenburg. Same era for sure.

  4. 11 March 2018 / 10:27 pm

    Such a wonderful monastery. It’s so beautiful and I loved the outbuildings surrounded in snow. Beautiful photos. #farawayfiles

    • erinehm
      Author
      11 March 2018 / 10:52 pm

      Thank you!

  5. 12 March 2018 / 10:03 pm

    Those walls are very Rothenburgy, aren’t they? Beautiful photos (as always!) of a fascinating place, and some interesting use of verbs too! ;o) Love your work – keep it up! #FarawayFiles

    • erinehm
      Author
      12 March 2018 / 10:09 pm

      Haha, does that mean something doesn’t make sense? I hope you would tell me! Yes, the walls are very Rothenburg – same era I think.

      • 12 March 2018 / 10:49 pm

        No, no, it makes perfect sense. I just really like the language that you use. Even if I didn’t, criticism from anyone who uses the word “Rothenburgy” should never be taken too seriously 😀

        • erinehm
          Author
          12 March 2018 / 11:17 pm

          Haha! Well I’ll say thank you then!

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