Salem Minster

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Salem Minster, north facade
Münster and monastery from the west

The Salem Munster was the church of the former Salem Abbey (founded in 1137 / 1138 , closed in 1804 by secularization ) and now serves as the parish church of the Roman Catholic community of Salem . The Gothic cathedral was built between 1285 and 1420 as a three-aisled pillar basilica and is one of the most important high-Gothic buildings of the Cistercians in the German-speaking area. In the external form, the church largely corresponds to the original building design, while conversions in the interior permanently changed the spatial effect. The inventory includes furnishings from the late Gothic , Baroque , Rococo and Classicist periods . It is the third largest Gothic church in Baden-Württemberg after the Ulm and Freiburg Minster .

First monastery church

In 1137 a delegation met by Cistercian monks from the monastery Lützel ( Haut-Rhin ) on the district Salmannsweiler on Lake Constance one to the monastery Salem to start. At the time of settlement there was already a chapel dedicated to Saints Verena and Cyriak . This probably already dilapidated ( vetustate paene collapsa ) chapel was demolished around 1150 for the construction of a new monastery church .

No structural evidence has survived from the first monastery church. If the church of Clairvaux Primary Abbey and the churches of Lützel, Kaisheim and other Cistercian monasteries built at the same time permit conclusions, then it was a three-aisled basilica with a cruciform floor plan in the Romanesque style . According to Knapp (2004), in addition to the central right-angled apse , the transept could have been divided into three chapels on the north side and two east-facing chapels on the south side. There is evidence that it was built entirely of stone and had at least eight altars , the first four of which were consecrated on September 13, 1152 by the Bishop of Chur and the Bishop of Constance . The church itself was consecrated on July 14, 1179 after around 30 years of construction. It was demolished a century later to make way for the building of the minster.

construction time

The oldest known depiction of the Salem Minster from 1536, drawn by Augustin Hirschvogel

Until the death of Frederick II in 1250, the monastery was under the protection of the Hohenstaufen kings . The power vacuum in the Roman Empire that followed his death was exploited by the monastery's neighbors to secure its possessions and to reverse previous donations. Only Rudolf I von Habsburg , whose assumption of office ended the Interregnum in 1273 , took Salem under his protection and made sure that the lost goods were returned. With the income secured in this way and a series of letters of indulgence issued in the 1280s, the monastery saw itself financially in a position to build a new, larger church. The cathedral building thus also documents a new era in the history of the monastery - the beginning of protection by the Habsburgs , which was to ensure the monastery’s independence for centuries.

The initiator of the new building was Abbot Ulrich II von Seelfingen (1282-1311). Probably the main reason for the new building was that the old church had become too small for the convent, which had grown to around 300 monks and lay brothers within a few decades. For a long time it was believed that the new building had started in 1299; More recent building studies and the connection between church building and Rudolf I's policy of revision suggest that construction began around 1285 ( Lit .: Knapp 1998). Roughly hewn quarry stones were no longer used for the new building, as was the case for the previous church, but large blocks of hewn sandstone that came from quarries in the area. Most of the workers and planners are likely to have been lay brothers , some of whom also worked beyond Salem, for example during the construction of the tower of the Bebenhausen monastery church .

Construction began on the east side and initially proceeded rapidly. In 1307 eleven altars were consecrated; In 1313 and 1319 twelve more were consecrated . When the choir and transept were completed and roofed around 1319, construction continued slowly, if not temporarily. The number of monks had decreased since the year 1300, so that the already covered space under the east central nave offered enough space for the convent .

The tracery of the west facade was only completed in the last construction phase. This lithograph from 1823 shows the facade in its original state before the distorting changes caused by the restoration in 1890

Financing problems were to blame for the interruption, as Ludwig the Bavarian was an opponent of the pope in power from 1314 to 1347, who lifted the Habsburg protection over Salem and thus denied the legal security of many goods. After Ludwig's successor, Charles IV , had reaffirmed its rights in the abbey, the plague hit southern Germany in 1348 . It was not until 1400 that construction could continue and was completely roofed over in the 1420s, as recent dendrochronological studies have shown. The construction time of around 150 years is quite short in comparison, as many Gothic church buildings remained incomplete for a long time or, like the Ulm Minster , were only completed in the 19th century, which was enthusiastic about Gothic.

The church consecration took place before construction was completed. Abbot Jodokus Senner used the Council of Constance , which had started in 1414, and invited the Archbishop of Salzburg Eberhard III who was present there . one to perform the consecration . Eberhard III. Salem was probably connected to the fact that his predecessor Eberhard II had taken the monastery under his protection around 200 years earlier. It is considered likely that King Sigismund was also present at the consecration on December 23, 1414 , who had stayed the day before in Überlingen in the Salem city courtyard and who arrived at the council on December 24.

With Salem as a pioneer, Gothic architecture had found its way from Strasbourg on the Upper Rhine to Lake Constance: at about the same time, the Constance diocese had the Constance Minster modernized in the Gothic style, and shortly after the construction in Salem was completed, the expansion in the neighboring imperial city of Überlingen was also planned the parish church of St. Nicholas to be started on the five-aisled basilica in order to surpass Salem.



Floor plan of the minster with equipment (please click on the picture)

The cathedral is integrated as a building into the monastery area and barely towers above it in height. The strict, simple forms of the church contrast today with its expansive baroque style. The architectural reduction of the Salem church, which is only loosened up by individual decorative elements on the facade, demonstratively distances itself from the pomp of the official church cathedrals and the monastery architecture of the Cluniacians .

The cloister , which leads to the convent building, is directly connected to the south . This entrance, the so-called Bernhard portal, served as an entrance for the monks, while the other churchgoers used the west portal. Another portal - closed since 1750 - can be found on the north side of the transept; it was originally used as a separate entrance for high-ranking guests.

The Salem Minster is a three-aisled basilica with a transept, choir and ambulatory on a rectangular base area of 67 × 28 m (external dimensions); the narrow, high structure of the transept does not protrude laterally over the base square. In terms of dimensions, the Salem Minster corresponds roughly to the Constance Minster , and in length to the Basel Minster . The building material is finely structured molasses sandstone in yellow-gray, greenish and brown colors, which is unplastered on the outside . The monastery church of Kappel am Albis and the now defunct minster of the Petershausen monastery could have served as regional models for the cross-shaped building . Since Petershausen, like Salem , had made itself independent of the Diocese of Constance and Salem wanted to demonstrate this independence, the Petershausen monastery church is probably the direct model of the Salem Minster ( lit .: Knapp 2004).

The roof ridge of the transept extends up to the 32 m high ridge of the central nave. The saddle roofs of the nave and transept protrude about twice as much over the low side aisles with their pent roofs . The roof structure over the high choir dates back to 1301. On the south side of the choir, original glazed roof tiles have been preserved, which once gave the roof a golden sheen; Until the new roofing in 1997, the entire roof of the nave was still largely covered with bricks from the building period.

The window of the north facade: The representative north side of the minster in the state before the restoration in 1890, when the window was reduced in size

On the outside of the building, only the harp gables and the lancet windows give the architecturally rather coarse building a certain filigree. The western front is surmounted by a high triangular harp gable, the basic shape of which, an equilateral triangle , could be understood in medieval numerical mysticism as a veneration of the Trinity . Two mighty buttresses support the facade and frame the entrance to the church. The design of the gable is repeated in a similar form on the east side as well as on the south and north sides of the transept.

Ten tracery windows on each side of the central nave ( upper storey ) provide light to the interior. Six axes are to the west and four to the east of the transept. The side aisles have one more window axis, as the window arches of the east central nave have been further apart than the yokes of the ambulatory since the renovation in 1750. Further, mighty tracery windows can be found on the four gables of the church, whereby the windows on the east side were bricked up in the course of the redesign of the interior around 1750. The front of the northern transept also has a large eight-leaf, fanned rose window based on the model of the Strasbourg cathedral , which proves that it was laid out as the front of the church. The tracery lattice in front of the gable wall with staggered two-lane lancets, which are horizontally connected by clover-leaf shapes, probably has its model in Strasbourg.

Tower built 1753–1757

Salem with the tower of Abbot Anselm II. Schwab . Oil painting by Andreas Brugger around 1765

According to the Cistercian order , which demanded simplicity and modesty, the minster did not have a church tower , but only a simple roof turret that carried the bells . The situation changed in the 18th century: in 1697 a fire destroyed almost the entire monastery building. The cathedral building survived the fire largely undamaged, while a large part of the inventory was destroyed by the flames. When the monastery was rebuilt by the Vorarlberg master builder Franz Beer in 1697–1708, the cathedral threatened to visually disappear behind the huge building complex. Beer therefore planned a free-standing bell tower , which was not implemented.

Abbot Anselm II. Schwab (term of office 1746–1778), who had already proven his sense of the representative with the construction of the Birnau pilgrimage church , could no longer avoid the temptation to equip the church with a magnificent crossing tower. The builder Johann Caspar Bagnato , who had become famous for building the Altshausen Castle , received the order for planning and construction in 1753, so that the tower was already there in 1756. The tower was in half-timbered technology constructed of wood and covered with copper plates covered. The corner pilasters were made of lead and decorated with bronze , so that from a distance the tower did not look different from masonry towers of this type, but must have looked even more splendid in its copper sheen. With the gilded tower button, which itself was almost two meters in diameter, the tower reached a height of over 85 m - more than fifty meters higher than the roof ridge of the nave. Sixteen new bells decorated with reliefs and a new clockwork were purchased.

inner space

View into the nave

The central nave and side aisles are covered by Gothic cross vaults . The vault of the nave is supported by supports that are designed in an asymmetrical “icebreaker shape”: towards the lay room they appear as rectangular pillars , the massive shape of which is moderated by slender bundles of pillars ; they close at an acute angle to the aisles, making the vault appear lighter and the aisles more spacious. For reasons of statics, the pillars were pulled deep down and replaced special buttress arches on the outside. This construction method created spaces for small side chapels between the pillars, which in turn are vaulted with cross ribs , creating the impression of an additional aisle.

The eastern parts of the side aisles are divided into two narrow aisles by rows of columns and ribbed vaults . The outer supports are designed as slender pillars, which close to the central nave as a three-quarter column. The columns, which are located directly between the choir and the gallery, have an octagonal cross-section. They belong to the oldest construction phase and still document an orientation towards an older architectural style, such as is characteristic of the church of the Lilienfeld Abbey . Overall, the pillars of the gallery are much slimmer than the massive pillars of the western nave, which makes the choir appear lighter and lighter. The visible support elements were hidden or reshaped to enhance the overall visual effect of the interior. This development, which is typical of the beginning of the German High Gothic in contrast to the French Gothic, is also evident in the conception of the interior as a three-dimensional shell to be designed.

Reconstruction of the choir polygon

Cross-section through the nave and ambulatory

Until 1750, the eastern central nave ( choir ) had a polygonal connection on three sides based on the model of the monastery church of Morimond . Above the westernmost yoke of the choir, an upper floor was formed by its vaulting , where there was probably a small chapel, which was dedicated to the Virgin Mary , all the angels and the Archangel Michael . The windows on the west facade, which were not blinded at the time, let light fall through the rows of columns in the choir and the upper floor, creating a mystical light effect.

On behalf of Abbot Anselm II, Johann Caspar Bagnato removed the internal structure in the eastern part of the church in 1750, thus expanding the usable space of the eastern nave. The vault over the eastern part of the gallery and the upper floor with the Michael's Chapel were removed, leaving only the north and south parts of the gallery. The nave vault was thereby lengthened by an additional yoke . Unlike many other church lords of the 18th century, Anselm appreciated the old, gottish shape of the church , so that he did not have the architecture updated in style despite all the renovations. The newly created vault above the high choir fits into the rest of the Gothic pointed arch vault of the nave without any change in style.

One of the reasons for the renovation was space problems: the monastery chronicle Apiarium Salemitanum complained as early as 1708 about the large number of lay people and the “uncommon concursus” in the church. Abbot Anselm feared that this contact with the people could disturb the monastic discipline too much. The high altar moved under the crossing, the choir stalls on the east side of the now extended nave. Before lay people and monks were only separated by a wooden barrier ( rood screen ), now the fathers were spatially completely among themselves. The medieval plays of light were lost and gave way to a frontal theatrical spatial effect; instead the choir room was now better lit, as more light fell into the room through additional windows in the upper part of the nave.


Equipment phases

Classicist structure on the east wall with the chapel of St. Verena in the lower part

With the Cistercians, simplicity in design and the absence of colors also applied to the interior of the church. While the official church and orders like the Cluniacians invested their fortune in the splendid ornamentation of the churches, the Cistercians feared that the lavish decoration of pictures could distract the monks from piety. The urge to decorate, however, could not always be stopped: The designers of the Salem Minster were no longer as restrained when it came to furnishing, as was the case in the early days of religious art. Gilded keystones, painted vault ribs and colored elements in the otherwise colorless windows, as one suspects in Salem, were not welcomed by the order's administration. The church utensils should also consist of the simplest materials; a principle that could no longer be consistently enforced in the late Middle Ages. The equipment always appears as a compromise between the spiritual obligation to renounce and the abbots' need for recognition, who ultimately had to compete with the prince-bishops not only on a religious but also on a political level .

Late Middle Ages

Little is known about the furnishings of the 15th century, even less has survived. The inner walls of the minster were whitewashed at the time and provided with borders in green, red and ocher tones as well as decorative ornaments. Abbot Johannes I. Stantenat (1471–1494) had the windows of the nave renewed, the stone sacrament house built and a carved wood altar made in addition to structural repairs. The altar carved by Michel Erhart ( Ulm School ) around 1494 was lost except for a few wooden figures. According to the rules of the order, the large and numerous windows were only allowed to be painted with simple grisaille to distance themselves from the splendor of the stained glass windows of Gothic cathedrals. Art historians suspect that the Salem glass painters also incorporated colored and figural elements; however, there is no indication whether and to what extent the windows were colored.

Early baroque

Early baroque apostle figures

Around 1620, with the establishment of the Upper German Cistercian Congregation , which had its seat in Salem, the monastery gained a high status within the order. At the same time, the new liturgy of the Tridentine Mass was introduced in Salem, which required new sacred objects and a reorganization of the church space. Abbot Thomas I. Wunn (1615–1647) took the increased importance of his monastery and the necessary spatial rearrangement as an opportunity to have the entire room re-equipped and decorated. The work carried out from 1627 to 1633 is considered to be the earliest complete baroque furnishings in southern Germany. The sculptor Christoph Daniel Schenck made a colossal high altar, the wood carving of which (which was largely destroyed by the fire of 1697) reached a height of almost 20 meters under the vault of the nave. He had numerous carved figures, some of them larger than life. The patron saints of the church ( patronage ) were set in gold, others were painted naturalistically or kept in plain white. The multitude of carved figures on the high altar was completed by a dozen larger-than-life wooden apostle figures. The walls were plastered and painted gray with a joint network, the delusions of the clerestory illusionist embellished, decorated the vault with plant garlands. In order to reinforce the sublime effect of the high altar, the partly colored windows have been completely replaced by unadorned clear glazing.

Baroque and Rococo

The “second Baroque transformation” began around 1710 after the construction of the monastery, which was destroyed by the fire in 1697. It is closely related to the economic revival of the monastery in the 18th century, which was made possible by tax breaks. The representative tasks of the imperial abbey had also grown, as it had to compete with the feudal pomp of the surrounding counties and small principalities. First, however, the organs damaged in the fire had to be repaired and the destroyed altars and church equipment replaced. The sculptor Franz Joseph Feuchtmayer , who has lived in nearby Mimmenhausen since 1706, made a large part of the sculptural furnishings, the painter Franz Carl Stauder the altar paintings.

Under the abbots Konstantin Miller (1725–1745) and Anselm II. Schwab (1748–1778) the decoration in the Rococo style was continued until about 1765. The vaulted caps of the ambulatory were, in keeping with the taste of the time, painted by Franz Joseph Spiegler with figurative colored ceiling frescoes , few of which are now visible again under the peeling plaster. Many altars were redesigned and frontals of stucco marble provided. The decorative and plastic work was taken over by his son Joseph Anton Feuchtmayer as the successor to the older Feuchtmayer . In the cathedral today only a few putti and stucco figures as well as the benches in the choir stalls bear witness to this furnishing phase.


Classicist structure of the Verena altar

The artistic upheaval that brought Salem back to the role of the pioneer among the southern German abbeys was due to Abbot Anselm's trips to Paris in 1765 and 1766. There Anselm got to know the court architecture of early French classicism and enthusiastically decided on a large-scale redesign of the minster in French style. The monastery management initially tried to win over the renowned palace and church builder Pierre Michel d'Ixnard for the overall design. However, the planning phase dragged on for several years without a final decision and was also robbed of artistic direction by Feuchtmayer's death in 1770.

The project was not fully resumed until 1772 and successfully carried out. The monastery d'Ixnard employed a student Johann Joachim Scholl as construction director, who worked out an overall design and managed the implementation. Feuchtmayer's successor Johann Georg Dirr and his son-in-law Johann Georg Wieland took over a large part of the plastic work on altars, monuments and decorative elements. Above all, Wieland is attributed the innovative formal language of the altars, which instead of the curved lines of the late Baroque era chose simple, geometrical elements such as pyramids , obelisks , triangular gables and truncated columns. A huge decorative structure was installed in front of the east wall, which resembles a stage design . The interior was completely painted in light gray tones in 1777 to harmonize with the alabaster of the altars; the baroque frescoes were also painted over.

This last comprehensive redesign still shapes the entire appearance today and is considered unique in southwest German sacred art. It became a model for similar furnishings, for example in the abbey church of Neresheim . The art historian Georg Dehio praised its "pseudodorically stiff austerity", which fits in well with the "most genuine and truest monastic style" of Cistercian architecture. While “embellishments” of Gothic churches were common in the 18th century, the furnishings in the Salem Minster were designed in such a way that they opened up a view of the original church architecture. That was entirely in keeping with the new understanding of art for the Gothic, which gained a foothold in France around 1750 and a little later with Goethe in Germany.


Joseph Altar

Today's high altar is based on a design from 1773. Originally the order was supposed to go to Josef Anton Feuchtmayer, but since he died in 1770, it was planned and executed by his successor Johann Georg Dirr and renewed in 1785 by Johann Georg Wieland. The relief shows a representation of the washing of the feet and the Last Supper . Since the altar should come to stand under the crossing, it is decorated with motifs on both sides. Two priests were able to read Mass for the lay people on the west side and for the convent on the east side at the same time.

The church has 25 other altars. The 10 largest are set up in the side chapels between the nave pillars; more in dealing with the choir. Some of the altar tables are still from the Middle Ages; the structure and the sculptures were designed by Dirr and Wieland in the style of French classicism and made of light alabaster . Some of them are consecrated to religious saints such as Bernhard von Clairvaux and Benedikt von Nursia , but also the regionally venerated Saint Konrad von Konstanz was taken into account.

East wall construction

Saint Verena , to whom the predecessor church of the minster was consecrated, was given a special niche under the east wall . Dirr designed the Verena altar and two reliefs depicting the temptation of St. Benedict and the temptation of St. Bernhard. Wieland created two statues of Johannes and Maria as well as a large relief depicting the Assumption of the Virgin Mary , replacing an older altarpiece with the same motif.

Choir stalls

Choir stalls

The carved choir stalls were made by Josef Anton Feuchtmayer and his employees Franz Anton and Johann Georg Dirr between 1765 and 1775. The seats date from 1766/1767 and are stylistically still rococo, while the back wall and the structure are already classical. Ten gilded relief panels , designed by Wieland around 1785 , which are placed on the stalls, show scenes from the Old and New Testament. On top of them there are again carved half-columns bearing busts (presumably) of religious saints; clear identification has not been possible so far.

The old choir stalls were made by Melchior Binder in 1593. The remains of them are now placed at the west end of the aisles. What is remarkable about them is the independent combination of the late Gothic formal language with antiquing elements, as was common in the Italian Renaissance .

Memorial monuments

Design by Johann Georg Dirr for the donor monument

Four classical monuments are placed in the crossing. They are reminiscent of the most important people in the history of the monastery and the tradition of the order: the abbots' memorials show the skeletons of the dead and the Salem abbots with their dates of death. Two other monuments commemorate Benedict of Nursia, the founder of Western European monasticism , and Bernhard von Clairvaux, the religious saint and great missionary of the Cistercians.

The founders Monument finally the founders dedicated the convent: baron Guntram of Adelsreute, who donated the building for the monastery, King Conrad III. , who made Salem an imperial abbey , and Pope Benedict XII. who for the first time granted a Salem abbot the right to use the pontifical insignia in the coat of arms. (In 1384 this right was permanently granted by Urban VI. ) A little salt pot and a coat of arms remind of Eberhard II , the Archbishop of Salzburg , who took the monastery under his protection in 1201 after the founding family died out and subsequently as " second founder ”of the monastery was venerated.

Vault keystones

57 gold-plated reliefs on the keystones of the ribbed vault in the ambulatory date from the earliest construction period around 1298 . In the south aisle, they show animal symbols, including a lion, an eagle and a pelican, which stand for the resurrection , ascension and sacrificial death of Christ , a monkey as a symbol of the devil and grimaces, monsters and demons, which were supposed to ward off disaster as apotropaic figures . There are also a number of depictions from the life of the Virgin Mary : the flight into Egypt , the birth of Christ and an ostrich as a symbol of the Immaculate Conception .

In the northern area there is the adoration of the kings , an angel , a praying monk and numerous plant motifs that are symbolic of the Virgin Mary or, according to other interpretations, of Christ. The portrayal of the bearded monk is usually interpreted as a (self) portrait of the master craftsman, who in this case must have been a frater barbatus , a bearded lay brother. The change from figurative to floral motifs is unusual; It is conceivable that the program was changed after the leadership of the Cistercian order strongly condemned the veneration of Mary and the excessive decoration of the churches in 1298.

Sacrament house

Sacrament house

The oldest equipment items, this late one tabernacle ( the tabernacle ) from 1494. Decorated with Gothic ornaments stone tower is 16 meters high. It originally stood as a monument on the grave of the great abbot Johannes I. Stantenat (1471–1494) and is now on the north wall of the transept, where it is partially covered by the gallery. The pinnacles are stone carvings from Salem workshops, presumably by the supraregional master craftsman Hans von Safoy. The gilded carved figures were not made for the sacrament shrine, but are probably remnants of the high altar made by Michel Erhart . Since it was moved to its current location in 1751, the shrine has been framed by gilded putti and cloud towers from Josef Anton Feuchtmayer's workshop.

Apostle figures

The early baroque period left its traces in the form of fourteen larger-than-life wooden sculptures depicting the twelve apostles , the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ , which are kept in a modest gray with a few decorative elements made of gold leaf . They stand on classical consoles in front of the windows of the nave. The series of figures was started by Christoph Schenck , completed in 1630 by Zacharias Binder and is one of the most important wood carvings of the early Baroque in the Lake Constance area.


The remaining organ case by JG Dirr with the preserved prospect pipes by KJ Riepp

In the 15th century, organ music found its way into Cistercian church services. The history of the organ in Salem coincides in all important sections with the building history of the minster, which was inaugurated in 1414. A few decades later, Caspar Bruschius reported in his Chronologia that Abbot Georgius Münch had a "quite handsome" organ built in 1441, the largest pipe of which was 28 feet long and 4 spans circumference. The second organ was probably a smaller choir organ, which was probably set up as a functional instrument soon after the inauguration of the minster. The next abbot ordered a new small organ in 1511 from a priest Bernhardin from the Reichenau monastery .

Around 1600 the two organs were rebuilt and rebuilt. The Apiarium still reports in 1708 about the "all-round" organ with the 28-foot-high pipe in the middle of the prospect field, which consequently tapered on both sides. On the night of 9./10. March 1697 the abbey was struck by a fire that destroyed the monastery buildings with the exception of the church. Nevertheless, the choir organ had suffered badly and had become unplayable. A horizontal organ positive , which the archbishop organ maker Johann Christoph Egedacher from Salzburg repaired in 1720, was used for the most necessary use . Abbot Stephan I had already selected this in 1714 in order to have four very individual organs built with a total of 117 sounding stops according to his ideas . Only the so-called Liebfrauen organ on the gallery of the south transept and the Trinity organ on the west gallery were realized in the new erection . Both had two manuals, 31 sounding registers and a sub-bass 32 ′ in the pedal.

It was not until Abbot Anselm II (term of office 1746–1778) took up the project comprising four organs again and had “his” church equipped with four new organs. The Swabian “royal organ maker” Karl Joseph Riepp, who lives in Dijon, was commissioned to do this . They were created between 1766 and 1774, comprised a total of 13 keyboards and were composed of 12 works with 7223 pipes. In their various tonal individuality and characteristics - e.g. B.

  • Liebfrauen organ , soft and brilliant
  • Trinity organ , strong

were at least the three big ones in harmony and yet consciously different. They were coordinated with the unusual ringing of the bells in the crossing tower, which was removed in 1807/1808. The southern gallery of the transept carried the Liebfrauen organ and the northern one the tabernacle organ (for the latter, the water power of a brook diverted underground took over the function of the limestone ). The organ of the Trinity was built into the magnificent organ case above the west portal , and that of the Orgue Ordinaire was hidden behind the choir stalls . The organs were played simultaneously in specially composed orchestral masses.

As a result of the secularization, the sale of the two transept organs destroyed the most important and also the most interesting achievement of organ building in southern Germany. The intact Trinity organ above the west gallery, which was still intact until 1900 , was replaced in 1901 by a pneumatic mechanism from the Überlingen organ building workshop Wilhelm Schwarz & Sohn . The typical disposition of this time encloses the preserved classicist case from the workshop of Johann Georg Dirr , whereby the prospectus still shows Riepp's handwriting and the pipes of Johann Christoph Egedacher of the predecessor organ, some of which he also used. She has the following disposition:

I main work C – f 3
Principal 16 ′
Principal 8th'
Double flute 8th'
Double covered 8th'
Gemshorn 8th'
Gamba 8th'
Salicional 8th'
Octave 4 ′
Reed flute 4 ′
Octave 2 ′
Cornett IV-V 8th'
Mixture IV-V 2 23
Trumpet 8th'
II. Manual C – f 3
Bourdon 16 ′
Flauto amabile 8th'
Dolce 8th'
Fifth 2 23
Night horn 2 ′
oboe 8th'
In the Rückpositiv
Violin principal 8th'
Octave 4 ′
Transverse flute 4 ′
Mixture IV
III Swell C – f 3
Concert flute 8th'
Delicately covered 8th'
Echo gamba 8th'
Aeoline 8th'
Voix céleste 8th'
violin 4 ′
Clarinet 8th'
Pedal C – d 1
Principal bass 16 ′
Sub bass 16 ′
Violon 16 ′
Accordion bass 16 ′
Quintbass 10 23
Octavbass 8th'
cello 8th'
trombone 16 ′
  • Coupling : II / I, III / I, III / II, I / P, II / P, III / P, Sub I, Super I, Sub II / I
  • Playing aids : Fixed combinations (piano, mezzoforte, forte, tutti), crescendo roller

Today in Salem only the wooden galleries in the transept, whose undersides were painted with biblical motifs by Andreas Brugger around 1765, are reminiscent of the two organs sold . The organ cases are largely preserved in the Stadtkirche Winterthur and St. Stephan Konstanz . The back positive of the Liebfrauen organ, believed to be lost, with its carved decoration by Joseph Anton Feuchtmayer now forms the central part of the organ in Charmey / Switzerland. Their prospect pipes bear the inscriptions by Riepp and his journeyman Louis Weber from 1768.


Before secularization , the peal was the largest and most impressive in the entire Baroque era ; it was praised by contemporaries as the "Bell Heaven of Salem". The Glockenzier, designed by Joseph Anton Feuchtmayer , is hard to beat in terms of virtuosity, sensitivity and artistic expression.

No. Surname Casting year Caster Diameter
(16th note)
1 Trinity Bell 1754 Franz Anton Grieshaber 1,750 3,232 a 0 −7
2 Angelus bell 1754 Franz Anton Grieshaber 1,130 877 e 1 −2
3 St. John's Bell 1758 Johann Georg Scheichel 870 408 a 1 +2
4th Anselmus bell 1757 Grieshaber or Sheichel (?) 655 160 cis 2 +1
5 1954 Friedrich Wilhelm Schilling 570 100 e 2 +3
6th 2010 Brother Michael Reuter OSB f sharp 2
7th Catherine 1756 Franz Anton Grieshaber 430 48 a 2 +1

Due to the secularization, the following bells were sold separately from the rest of the bells to different parishes:

Surname Casting year Caster Diameter
Nominal Hanging location
Goddess bell 1756 Franz Anton Grieshaber 2,180 ≈5,500 f sharp 0 −1 Herisau (Switzerland), St. Laurentius
Our Lady Bell 1757 Franz Anton Grieshaber 1,342 1493 d 1 −3 Wollerau (Switzerland), St. Verena
Stephansbell 1756 Franz Anton Grieshaber 1,085 794 f 1 −1 Wollerau (Switzerland), St. Verena
Theresienglocke 1758 Johann Georg Scheichel 860 ≈400 a 1 −1 Riedboehringen
Benedict bell 1754 Johann Georg Scheichel 730 ≈200 c 2 ± 0 Mühlingen


The tombstones in the minster document that most of the abbots of the monastery were buried here - with the exception of those who left the monastery before their death. With some graves, such as those of the founder Guntram von Adelsreute († 1138?) And the first Salem abbot Frowin († 1165), doubts are appropriate: On the one hand, none of the monastery churches stood at the time of their death; on the other hand, skeletons were only exhumed during renovation work in the 18th century and buried under this name.

The Archbishop of Salzburg, Eberhard II († 1246), is - allegedly - also located here . The Lords von Bodman , Gremlich and Jungingen , who as donors had made a contribution to the economic situation of the monastery, rest here ; however, the last graves of these noble families date from the early 17th century. Since the early 15th century, well-deserved non-aristocratic laypeople such as the builder Michael von Safoy were buried in the cathedral.

Monument preservation

The north facade before the restoration, photographed around 1885 by German Wolf

In 1804 the monastery was secularized . The minster and the monastery building became the property of the Margraviate of Baden . Since the cathedral was to continue to be used as a Catholic parish church , at least the usability of the interior had to be ensured. The now dilapidated wooden tower was demolished in 1807 and the compact roof turret with tent roof that still exists today was built according to designs by Wilhelm Kleinheinz. Despite the enthusiasm of the 19th century for the Gothic style, which was perceived as particularly “German”, there was initially little interest in Salem in repairing the buildings beyond the bare minimum.

Only after the change of government in Baden in 1853 were serious efforts made to preserve the dilapidated monastery church as a monument. In a letter from the building inspector Beyer in 1864, it was stated that the bricks were stones

“Sometimes so rotten that you can scratch them off with your finger, in very damp places the stones are even rotten and the like. failed (...) The church in Salem is one of the most beautiful ecclesiastical monuments in our country, it would therefore be desirable that this building would not suffer even more damage if these necessary repairs were not carried out. ”( Lit .: Knapp 2004, p. 40)

In the years 1883-1892 the cathedral was extensively restored; A considerable part of the stone material on the west and south gables was exchanged and replaced with new Rorschach sandstone , which stands out from the original masonry due to its slightly darker color. Although the restorer Franz Baer made an exemplary effort to preserve the historical shape of the minster, some of the original components were lost: the west and south gables were designed more simply; the almost destroyed masks on the gable consoles were replaced by contemporary creations. Further "improvements" such as the planned roof turret in neo-Gothic style were omitted.

Under the direction of the Baden-Württemberg State Monuments Office , a new inventory began in 1997, which was completed in 2002. An extensive renovation of the interior is still pending. An important result of the measures was above all a detailed documentation of the building stock, which will promote further research and repair measures.


Salem Monastery, designed by the architect Franz Beer around 1700

The minster was the monastery church of the Imperial Abbey of Salem until it was closed in 1804. The monastery connects to the Bernardusgang in the south through the Bernhard portal, which connects the abbey wing with the church. Through this corridor, decorated with splendid stucco ornaments, the monks went to church seven times a day for worship. In the early days of the monastery, the north transept served as a separate prayer room for high-ranking guests.

In the 17th century the church was also opened to laypeople, although there was an additional (now defunct) parish church on the northern monastery grounds for members of the Salem parish (or Salmannsweiler) . The lay people were separated from the monks by a wooden rood screen. From 1765 the high altar was also located between the choir, where the convent was located, and the lay room, so that they were even more strictly separated from each other.

The cemetery for the monks and lay brothers was north of the minster. The abbots, provided they exercised their office until their death, were buried in the cathedral. There was also a cemetery in nearby Stefansfeld for the citizens of the surrounding villages. The Stefansfeld Chapel there was built by Franz Beer , the master builder of the baroque monastery.

Since 1808 the minster has served as a place of worship for the Catholic parish of Salem . The pulpit and baptismal font, which were not needed by the monks, date from this time.

After the secularization, the cathedral and the surrounding monastery were privately owned by the Margraves of Baden. In 2009 the state of Baden-Württemberg acquired the facility. Visitors to the former monastery complex, known as Salem Monastery and Palace, can visit the cathedral for a fee as part of guided tours. It is also used for Sunday services in the Catholic parish and for concerts.


  • Oskar Hammer: The Minster in Salem. Diss., Stuttgart 1917.
  • Doris Ast: The buildings of the Salem monastery in the 17th and 18th centuries. Tradition and innovation in the art of a Cistercian abbey. Diss., Munich 1977.
  • Reinhard Schneider (ed.): Salem: 850 years imperial abbey and castle. Stadler, Konstanz 1984. ISBN 3-7977-0104-7
  • Stephan Klingen: From Birnau to Salem. The transition from Rococo to Classicism in the architecture and decoration of southwest German sacred art. Diss., Bonn 1993, 1999.
  • Ulrich Knapp: Former Cistercian Empire Salem. Schnell and Steiner, Regensburg 1998 (3rd edition), ISBN 3-7954-1151-3 . (Short guide)
  • Günter Eckstein, Andreas Stiene: The Salem Minster. Findings documentation and inventory security on facades and roofs. Workbooks from the Baden-Württemberg State Monuments Office. Vol. 11. Theiss, Stuttgart 2002. ISBN 3-8062-1750-5 .
  • Richard Strobel: The tracery windows of the Salem monastery church. For the preservation and documentation of Gothic tracery. In: Preservation of monuments in Baden-Württemberg , 32nd year 2003, issue 2, pp. 160–167. ( PDF )
  • Ulrich Knapp: Salem: The buildings of the former Cistercian abbey and their furnishings. Theiss, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-8062-1359-3 . (Standard work)
  • Ulrich Knapp: Salem. Catalog of plans and designs. Theiss, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-8062-1359-3 . (As-built documentation by the Baden-Württemberg State Monuments Office and collection of sources on the history of the building)
  • Ulrich Knapp: A sample restoration from the 19th century. The restoration of the Salem monastery church in the years 1883 to 1894. In: Denkmalpflege in Baden-Württemberg, 17th year 1988, issue 3, pp. 138–146. ( PDF )

Sound carrier

  • Kurt Kramer : The Salem Minster. The bell sky of Salem. Theiss, Stuttgart 2002. (CD)

Web links

Commons : Salemer Münster  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

References and comments

  1. Almost 1998.

Coordinates: 47 ° 46 ′ 34 ″  N , 9 ° 16 ′ 38 ″  E

This version was added to the list of excellent articles on August 28, 2005 .