Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Maria Laach Abbey, Germany


When we visited the Basilica of St. Castor in Koblenz, Germany, that weekend following America's Thanksgiving (last post), I didn't think it could get any better...until the next day when we drove 32 km NW to see the Maria Laach Benedictine Abbey, situated on the shore of the Laacher See near Andernach.

As I said on Facebook, this is when I know for sure I was an architect in a past life...or maybe a monk???

I'll tell you from the outset that the outside is what is most impressive about this abbey.
Construction began in 1093 until 1220 when it became the home of the Benedictines.

Our DK travel book said the outside columns had interesting capitals,
so we started there, before entering the abbey.

The book also mentioned the lion fountain in the atrium, made in 1928,
and visible near the abbey entrance.
You could say we saw a lot before even entering!

 Once inside, we saw how "basic" this holy place is...
like a perfect place for monks?
The canopy above the high altar, from 1220-50, is probably the most impressive "work" of it all.

Mosaics.  Statues.  Icons.
All a reminder that this is a Roman Catholic monastic community.

 The one tomb visible to all is that of Heinrich II, who ordered the abbey to be built in 1093
and who died in 1095, just 2 years later, and is buried there.
He never saw the completed masterpiece.

It was the crypt beneath that felt like the holy of holies to us both.
I could worship there.
We had hoped to hear Gregorian chants, as the book mentioned we might,
but not that day or at that time.  Only in our hearts.

Once back outside, in the abbey's courtyard, we had closer views of this incredible structure.

One has the feeling a lot of supplication is raised to the heavens around that place.

And then we walked across the road to the wee cemetery.

We were there at the right time, when this monk unlocked the gate for the day.
We watched him give his blessing on who-knows-whom...his BFF?
I came up with my own stories that day.

I repeat...I know for sure I was an architect in a past life...or maybe a monk???

And that was just the first part of the day!
From there we drove back to Koblenz to see the Stolzenfels Castle.
But that's another post...not to be mixed in with this holy place.

16 comments:

  1. A holy place indeed! And that cemetery! Swoon! And the monk's blessing? What perfect timing...so very cool!

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    1. It had been raining when we first started out the day, Robin, but shortly after we arrived, the sun was out. It all seemed serendipitous!

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  2. A very special place, esp in your hearts. I agree with Robin that the cemetery is amazing, my favorite.

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    1. As I look back on it, Ruth, it's even more special, for some reason....

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  3. Beautiful all around. I probably could spend hours there.

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    1. Oh yes, Tim. I know you well enough to know you would!

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  4. Looks a wonderful place. The final collage is very touching

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Bill. That's most kind of you. And yes, I agree, about that last collage. It felt important to end the post there!

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  5. This was a very special place to visit and I have to say I am impressed with the last collage of the monk. The contrast of the outside and inside was big, in my eyes. The inside was so 'simple' and there was no room for distraction.
    Simple but beautiful. I am glad we visited this Abbey.

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    1. Exactly as you have said, Astrid. Exactly. It's hard to believe places like this still exist in our world!

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  6. Oh wow Ginnie this is an amazing spot...gorgeous architecture and that wee cemetery is my favorite!

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    1. Thank you, dear Donna. You can tell how much I needed to set this place apart...especial from the castle we saw directly afterwards!

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  7. What an amazing place, your pictures are lovely they certainly make me want to visit the place, thank you!

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    1. We are so fortunate to be close to these places, Anne, in driving distance. It would be easy to see this place in a day trip, if ever we wanted to go back!

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  8. Even better via email than via Facebook. Your photos are stunning and tell how deeply you were moved. The simplicity of the inside is as beautiful as the majesty of the outside- loved also the constant use of red and blue-gray. You have outdone yourself.

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    1. You are so generous, Ted, and I thank you. As for me, seeing it all on the actual blog is even better than what you see in the email version to which you subscribe. I wish you could see it there.

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