After living in Germany for 9 months I have discovered my favorite place in Germany so far and no it’s not Berlin or Munich or Stuttgart.
Walking into the historic center of felt like I was slipping back into the previous century. I was literally speechless and for those that don’t know me, that rarely ever happens. I have never been so immediately captivated by a place, a place where I could experience all of my favorite things at once. I must have said “Wow” a 100 times. Unless you’re very familiar with Germany, there’s a good chance you haven’t heard of the charming town of Maulbronn, located just 35 km from Stuttgart. I hadn’t heard of it until my German friend (thanks Barbara) recommended it to me and I live close by. Here’s why I couldn’t stop saying “Wow.”
Maulbronn is most famous for it’s monastery founded in 1147. It is by far the most impressive monastery I’ve ever been in and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Maulbronn Monastery has an interesting beginning. Legend has it that some monks decided that wherever their mule stopped for a drink of water would be the ideal location for their monastery and so a monastery was built. I could go on and on about the Monastery,
but will save it for an upcoming post devoted entirely to the monastery. See Maulbronn Monastery – The Most Important Cistercian Monastery in Europe.
The entire city center was protected by a wall, part of which you can still see today and nestled into a valley, it’s a very picturesque setting.
Nestled into this picturesque valley are charming half timber houses and shops all part of the monastery complex. While the monastery itself and the monastery complex have such an old history, the actual town outside the walled monastery complex is only 150 years old and was founded on the monastery settlement.
And of course every town needs a granary – and somewhere to store the wine. Today the old granary is used for special events.
And as a cat lover I was thrilled to see a restaurant with the name “cat” in it and this little cat door in the middle of the complex. People that love cats are good people in my book and the few cats I did see roaming the streets of Maulbronn looked very well fed.
The witches tower stands tall and prominent in the city center. As the name would suggest, this was where people were held for trial for witchcraft in the 1400s.
Just in case you’re not convinced to join the other 300,000 tourists that visit Maulbronn, there is also a ruin. It was under construction during our visit, but it appears that it is normally a picnic area.
Leading outside the walled settlement is a bridge that leads you to a lake where you can swim in summer or choose one of the other walking paths designed around the motto “Water, wine and forest in the Cistercian Cultural Landscape.” I love hiking so will definitely bring my walking shoes with me next time and sample the wine too of course.
I find it hard to believe that a monastery would need protection but they did. In addition to the walled settlement there was also a zwinger. The zwinger was an area surrounding the wall where usually a bear or dogs were kept to keep would be intruders out and prisoners in the witches corner in. Escaping would have been difficult.
Have I convinced you to visit?
Know Before You Got To Maulbronn:
- Maulbronn is located ~45km NW of Stuttgart. It is easily reached by train or car.
- It is a cute little village best explored on foot so bring good walking shoes.
- The highlight for many people is the monastery which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site,
- There’s also a nearby lake in which you can go swimming.
- It’s a small place that can easily be explored in a half-full day.