Ilsenburg Monastery

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View of the monastery from the Buchberg
Church and enclosure of the former Benedictine monastery

The Ilsenburg Monastery (St. Petrus and Paulus) is a former Benedictine abbey in the town of Ilsenburg in the Harz district in Saxony-Anhalt . The monastery complex dates from the 11th and 12th centuries. The city of Ilsenburg has owned the monastery church since 1974 and had the sacred building extensively restored. The remains of the cloister building have been owned by the Ilsenburg Abbey Foundation since 2000.


Monastery church with bell tower
North view of the monastery church
Interior of the monastery church
Brothers Hall

Foundation and expansion

The Ilsenburg Monastery, inhabited by Benedictines for more than 600 years, was built on the site of a presumed hunting palace not before the second decade of the 11th century . The former cappellanus emperor Otto III. was actively involved in politics in eastern Saxony, as the chronicler Thietmar von Merseburg reports. King Heinrich II donated part of his estate, notarized on April 15, 1003, including the Elysynaburg , to the Diocese of Halberstadt . Bishop Arnulf von Halberstadt founded his own monastery. For this purpose he transferred the royal donation to the new monastery. Furthermore, Arnulf left extensive goods from his property in the region between Ilsenburg and Osterwieck to the new monastery . According to a controversial document dated April 6, 1018, he called monks from the Fulda monastery to Ilsenburg. The expansion of the imperial hunting palace into a monastery probably dragged on until 1018. The heyday of the 500 year old monastery was between the late 11th and 13th centuries. Numerous properties acquired through purchase and donations made it one of the richest Benedictine monasteries between the Weser and Elbe rivers. Spiritually, the Ilsenburg Benedictine monastery followed the Consuetudines of Fulda in the first decades of its existence . After the third successor in the episcopate during the monastery time Burchard II had appointed his nephew, the monk Herrand , as abbot , Ilsenburg gained increasing importance in the spiritual field from around 1070. Herrand, a representative of the Gorzer Reform , carried out the reforms sought by Burchard by calling monks from the Lorze Abbey of Gorze to Ilsenburg. The Ilsenburg Abbey itself subsequently developed its own customs in the Ordo Ilseneburgensis , which radiated into a group of other monasteries. The following Benedictine abbeys, among others, were newly established or reformed from Ilsenburg: Huysburg , Harsefeld near Stade, Hillersleben near Magdeburg and Wimmelburg near Eisleben. The monastery, which burned down in 1120, was restored in 1129 by Abbot Martin. Abbot Sigibodo († 1161) and Abbot Tiother († 1176) expanded the monastery complex. Isenburg already had an important monastery school at the end of the 11th century, and there was evidence of a lively activity in writing and art in the 12th century.

The reform of monastery life in Ilsenburg found its structural expression in the construction of a larger abbey church according to the Gorzer scheme, which was consecrated on June 5, 1087 by Bishop Burchard II to the holy apostles Peter and Paul. Its three-aisled choir , which in turn ended in three apses , can be traced for the first time in the church architecture of the Benedictine order in the former German Empire . The richly decorated floor made of plaster screed as a face screed dates from around 1200 and is today one of the treasures of Romanesque art in Germany. The partially preserved buildings of the enclosure were erected between 1120 and 1176 after fire destroyed the previous buildings. At one time 25 monks belonged to the convent . Since 1464/65 the abbey was a member of the Bursfeld congregation of the Benedictine order.

In 1131 Abbot Heinrich had a hospital church consecrated to the Mother of God built near the abbey, which served the pastoral care of lay people and pilgrims . In the course of the Reformation in 1567 it became a Protestant parish church, see Marienkirche (Ilsenburg) .

Destruction of the monastery and introduction of the Reformation

The monastery with cloister and St. Mary's chapel on the south side of the church was largely destroyed in the time of the Peasant Wars in 1525. Large parts of the library were lost. When Count Wolfgang zu Stolberg took over the government in 1538, he confessed to the teachings of Martin Luther . Under the abbatiate of Abbot Henning Brandis († 1546) the convent turned to the Reformation, which was completed in 1547 with the establishment of a Protestant monastery school that existed until 1627. The Counts of Stolberg hunted here several times, according to Count Albrecht Georg. The count's room in the monastery was mentioned as early as 1550.

The last Protestant abbot Henning Dittmar died in 1572. After 1573, Count Christoph zu Stolberg, appointed as administrator, laid down the northern part of the monastery church, the central nave , crossing and choir were newly vaulted and a patronage box was installed in the southern arm of the transept . In the meantime, the Ilsenburg monastery was in the possession of the Statius von Münchhausen and fell back to the Counts of Wernigerode in 1609. Count Heinrich built it for his wife Adriane, b. Countess von Mansfeld, as a widow's seat. Under Count Heinrich Ernst, Ilsenburg House became the seat of the count's household in 1672. After the headquarters were relocated to Wernigerode, the rooms were used as apartments for officials and for economic purposes.

The west wing of the enclosure and the cloister were demolished in the 17th and 18th centuries. The remaining parts of the building experienced very different uses in the following centuries. In connection with the monastery buildings, Count Otto zu Stolberg-Wernigerode built a new castle in the neo-Romanesque style for his uncle Count Botho according to the plan of the railroad builder Ebeling from Braunschweig and under the direction of the building councilor Carl Frühling (1839–1912). The shell was completed in 1861 . The construction of the palace wing on the west side of the former monastery grounds is evidenced by major maintenance measures on the structure of the monastery.


The Ilsenburg monastery buildings have largely been preserved. These include the monastery church without a north aisle, parts of the sanctuary , parts of the west section and the cloister without west wing and cloisters. Even the earlier, demonstrably higher vault is no longer there.

The monastery church was built as a Romanesque basilica at the end of the 11th century . It had a transept and a three-aisled choir. It was opened in the west through a large portal with columns . The outlines can still be seen today.

In the 14th and 15th centuries, only a few structural changes were made to the church and the enclosure. However, the furnishings and architectural decorations in the Gothic style were more extensive. During the storming and plundering of the monastery in 1525, there were not only losses in equipment but also damage to the building fabric.

The monastery church was given its present form between 1573 and 1581.

Further use

On May 28, 1929, Prince Christian Ernst zu Stolberg-Wernigerode leased the old monastery buildings and the Marienhof for 30 years to the Old Prussian Union of Evangelical Churches in Berlin, which established various training facilities on the premises. In 1930 the church seminar abroad was moved from Stettin-Kückenmühle to Ilsenburg. In the summer of 1936, part of the palace was set up as a rest home for church workers. During the war years, the SS set up a resettlement camp for the Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle at the castle . The SS left the palace on April 10, 1945 and the Americans drove into the courtyard on April 11, 1945. After looting, up to 500 refugees and displaced persons were temporarily accommodated in the castle from summer 1945. In the course of the land reform , the castle then became the property of the Ilsenburg community on December 15, 1945. As early as October 3, 1946, the palace and the fenced-in park were given to the Evangelical Church, which used it as an Evangelical Abbey, pastors' college and research academy. With the tightened measures of the border policy of the GDR in the exclusion zone, the state security took over the area from 1961. The monastery church was closed after Christmas 1967, works of art and parts of the furnishings disappeared afterwards.

After the contract expired, the remnants of the enclosure, which had meanwhile been expropriated, remained unused. Only with the sale of the monastery church to the community of Ilsenburg in 1974 and the opening of a rest home for employees of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food in the castle wing were the buildings accessible again, at least for registered visitors, and the first security work and minor repair work was initiated. In 2000, the Ilsenburg Monastery Foundation, chaired by Princess Maria zu Stolberg-Wernigerode, took over the east and south wings of the enclosure of the former Benedictine monastery. They are now one of the priority objects of the German Foundation for Monument Protection . An art and culture center is to be built, which will also include the castle .

The former Benedictine monastery of St. Peter and Paul is now a stop on the Romanesque Road in Saxony-Anhalt and the Harz monastery hiking trail .


Names and years indicate the verifiable mention as dept .

  • 1018-1023 Ezilo
  • 1023-1065 Ulrich (buried in the monastery)
  • 1065-1090 Herrand
  • 1090-1100 Otto
  • 1100-1105 vacancy
  • 1105-1129 Martin
  • 1129–1135 Heinrich (deposed by Lothar III.)
  • 1135–1138 Lambert (Lamprecht)
  • 1138–1161 Sigebodo (Sigibodo)
  • 1161–1176 Thioter (Thieter, Tether)
  • 1176–1192 Dietrich (Thideric)
  • 0000-1195 Bertold
  • 1196–1207 Hermann
  • 1201– 0000Conrad (Abbas de Hilsineburch)
  • 1207–1211 Ludolf von Schladen
  • 1212–1219 Heinrich (deposed)
  • 1220–1239 Johann I.
  • 1240–1243 Elias of Gröningen
  • 1243–1253 Bernhard I of Oldenrode
  • 1254–1256 Gebhard (also abbot of Hillersleben)
  • 1256–1258 Bernhard II.
  • 1259-1277 Hugold
  • 1277–1305 Heinrich Paschdag (Paschalis)
  • 1305-1308 Burchard of Cramm
  • 1308–1316 Heinrich Graf von Klettenberg
  • 1316–1325 Albrecht von Burgdorf
  • 1326–1358 Ditmar von Hardenberg
  • 0000-1358 Lippold von Cramm
  • 1358-1366 Wiprecht Nobilis
  • 1366–1393 Anno von Oberg
  • 1393–1397 St. Nicholas tribute
  • 1397–1407 Ludwig Bogelsack
  • 1408–1448 Heinrich von Braunschweig
  • 1448–1467 Heinrich Overbeck (under him the monastery was reformed from 1452)
  • 1467–1469 Johann Duderstadt
  • 1469–1481 Heinrich Grube (from Hagen)
  • 1481–1516 Hermann Polde (Poelde) of Hanover
  • 1517–1531 Johannes Henne
  • 1531–1546 Henning Brandis

Evangelical abbots

  • 1546–1560 Dietrich Meppis
  • 1560–1572 Henning Dittmar from Hildesheim


  • 1572–1581 Christoph Graf zu Stollberg (Provost of Halberstadt)

Restituted Catholic rulers

  • 1630– 0000Petrus Ribola (monk from Ettersheim)
  • 1631–1632 Joachim Kamphausen (Abbot of Berge )


The organ builder Paul Ott built an organ for the church in 1936–1939 as Opus 26. From two manuals and pedal , 24 registers on slider chests with mechanical action could be played. From 1947 the organ builder Wilhelm Sohnle took over the maintenance of the organ. Around 1978 it was transferred to the Ilsenburg Marienkirche by the organ builder Erwin Lägel from Eisleben , who was employed by the Schuster organ builder . The church then remained without an organ until 2018.

For the church of St. Johannis (Mainz) a new organ was built in 1960/61 by the organ building company Förster & Nicolaus (Lich). The slider chest instrument has 41 stops on three manuals and a pedal. In 1995, the organ was reworked slightly by the builder's workshop in its original location and in 1997 it was given an electronic setting system and sequencer . Due to the renovation of the Mainz church that began in 2013, the organ was dismantled this year and rebuilt in the monastery church of Ilsenburg from 2018 by the organ builder Reinhard Hüfken .

I Hauptwerk C – g 3
Pommer 16 ′
Principal 8th'
Capstan flute 8th'
octave 4 ′
Smalled up 4 ′
Principal 2 ′
Mixture VI
bassoon 16 ′
Trumpet 8th'
shawm 4 ′
II Rückpositiv C – g 3
Wooden dacked 8th'
Quintadena 8th'
Praestant 4 ′
Reed flute 4 ′
Pointed flute 2 ′
Fifth 1 13
Sesquialtera II 2 23
Sharp V
Krummhornshelf 16 ′
Vox humana 8th'
III Swell C – g 3
Reed flute 8th'
Pointed 8th'
Coupling flute 4 ′
Willow pipe 4 ′
Nasard 2 23
recorder 2 ′
octave 1'
Whistle I-III
Zimbel IV
musette 8th'
Pedals C – f 1
Principal 16 ′
Sub bass 16 ′
Octave bass 8th'
Gemshorn 8th'
Octave 4 ′
Night horn 2 ′
Basszink IV
Rauschbass V
trombone 16 ′
Bombard 8th'
Clairon 4 ′
  • Coupling : II / I, III / I, I / P, II / P, III / P


In the once double-towered monastery church there is a medieval ring of three bells in the bell room . All bells hang in the wooden belfry on wooden yokes. The bridal bell hangs on the cranked steel yoke and is to be hung on a straight wooden yoke as part of a renovation.

Surname Casting year Foundry, casting location Diameter
(mm) without crown
Strike tone (
16th note)
inscription Translation of the inscription
Prayer and mourning bell 1520 Hermann Koster, Hildesheim 1590 1300 ~ 2600 c 1 +7 Ingeniosa patris abbatis cura Iohannis Hanc in honore piae campanam dedicat Annae attribuitique bonis Petro Pauloque patronis. - Anno domini MDXX per manus artificis Hermanni Hildensemensis. - Laudo deum Verum, pestem fugo, colligo clerum, defunctos ploro, plebem voco, festa decoro. The gifted father and abbot of the community, the honorable Johann Henne, had this bell consecrated to Saint Anne and dedicated to the courageous patron saints Peter and Paul. - In 1520 the artist Hermann von Hildesheim made them. - I praise the true God, drive away the plague, gather the clergy, mourn the dead, call the people and decorate the festivals.
Bridal bell 1504 Hermann Koster, Hildesheim 1459 1160 ~ 2000 d 1 -1 Hoc vas sacratum Petro Pauloque dicatum. Virgo, melodia nomen cui reple, Maria, ut queat omnia pellere nocua, laeta tonare, frangere fulmina, plangere funera, festa sonare. - Quattuor elapsis annis modo mille quingentis viribus abbatis Hermanni Hildensemensis Olim destructa, en, sum stdiose reducta. This sacred device is dedicated to Peter and Paul. Virgin Mary, fill it with the sound of your name, so that it may drive away all that is harmful, to sound joyfully, to tame lightning, to ring the bell for funeral and for feast. - Four years after the year 1500 had passed, Abbot Hermann von Hannover advocated that by the hand of the artist Hermann von Hildesheim, what was once destroyed, behold, was restored with great zeal.
Baptismal bell 13th century unknown 710 660 ~ 250 g 2 -5

In the tower of the Marienkirche, the former hospital church, only one bell, which is about 600 years old, hangs in an iron belfry. It weighs about 830 kg with a diameter of 112 cm and a height (without crown) of 88 cm. As a decoration, she wears a lettering in capitals at the top of her neck : "Qui sequeris lete me dum sono spes bona de te" (translation: "If you joyfully follow my sound, you can hope for the best" ).


  • Peter Engelbrecht : Chronologia abbatum Ilsineburgensium , manuscript 1588, printed by Leibniz Script. rer. brunswicens. III. 684–690 and Leuckfeld Antt. Poeldens. 217-240
  • C. Niemeyer: Ilsenburg. Halberstadt 1848.
  • CW Haase: The Benedictine monastery church in Ilsenburg. In: The medieval monuments of Lower Saxony. 3, Hannover 1867, pp. 151-156.
  • Eduard Jacobs : About the former library and archive of the Ilsenburg monastery and the fate of both since the 16th century. NMHAF 11/2, 1867, pp. 335-372.
  • Eduard Jacobs: Document book of the Ilsenburg monastery. 2 volumes, hall 1882.
  • Adolf Zeller : Early Romanesque church buildings and monasteries of the Benedictines and Augustinian canons north of the Harz. Berlin 1928.
  • Gottfried Maron: A thousand years of Ilsenburg as reflected in the history of the monastery and castle. Darmstadt 1995.
  • Ferdinand Schlingensiepen (Ed.): Theological study in the Third Reich. The church seminar abroad in Ilsenburg / Harz. Düsseldorf 1998. ISBN 3-930250-25-X .
  • Dieter Pötschke: Ilsenburg Monastery. History, architecture and library (= Harz research, vol. 19). Wernigerode / Berlin 2004. ISBN 978-3-936872-14-9 .
  • Dieter Pötschke (Ed.): The Ilsenburg Abbey and other monasteries in the Harz anteroom (= Harz research, vol. 22). Berlin u. Wernigerode 2006.
  • Reinhard Schmitt : Monastery and Castle Ilsenburg. Documented, archival and other sources on history and building history between 1003 and 2003. In: Castles and palaces in Saxony-Anhalt. 18, 2009 pp. 68-250.
  • Hans-Hermann Wedekind: Ilsenburg Monastery. In: Harzburger Altertums- und Geschichtsverein e. V. (Ed.): Uhlenklippen Spiegel, Issue 85 / March 2008.

Web links

Commons : Ilsenburg Monastery  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Dieter Pötschke: Ilsenburg Monastery . 2004, pp. 26-31.
  2. ^ Thietmar von Merseburg: Chronicle. Retransmitted and explained by Werner Trillmich. Darmstadt 1957.
  3. ^ UB Ilsenburg I., 1875 No. 1.
  4. UB Ilsenburg I., 1875 No. 2.
  5. Dieter Pötschke: Ilsenburg Monastery - History, Architecture , Library, 2004, p. 32
  6. glass portal
  7. ^ Dieter Pöschke: Ilsenburg Monastery. 2004 pp. 48-49.
  8. Gottfried Maron: A thousand years Ilsenburg. 1995 p. 23.
  9. Press release Ministry for Economy and Labor of Saxony-Anhalt ; FAZ article 2003 ( Memento of December 13, 2007 in the Internet Archive ); Hans Werner Dannowski, Forgotten Monasteries: Journey into the monastery landscape on the northern edge of the Harz, Hanover 2006 ISBN 3-89993-657-4 , Monuments 2008/1 and Harzlife
  10. ^ Rose-Marie Knape: Strasse der Romanik Kulturreisen in Sachsen-Anhalt, Halle an der Saale, 2005 pp. 98–99.
  11. Christof Römer: Ilsenburg, abbots. In: Germania Benedictina. Vol. X-1, 2012, p. 766.
  12. ^ UB Ilsenburg 2, 1877, 535-546.
  13. ^ Uwe Pape : Paul Ott - Leben und Werk , catalog raisonné from the organ database Berlin ORDA, Pape Verlag, Berlin undated (PDF on CD-ROM).
  14. Fritz Rohbach (ed.): Festschrift for the inauguration of the new great organ of the Protestant St. John's Church in Mainz 1961 . Mainz 1961.
  15. Organ disposition ( memento of October 6, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) on the pages of Church Music to St. Johannis, in this representation the Gedackt 4 'in the main work is missing.
  16. ^ Rainer Schulze: From Mainz to Ilsenburg . In: Ars Organi . tape 67 , 2019, ISSN  0004-2919 , p. 185-187 .
  17. Constanze Treuber: Cast diversity . Hinstorff, Rostock 2007, p. 75.

Coordinates: 51 ° 51 ′ 35 "  N , 10 ° 40 ′ 43"  E