Schussenried Monastery was founded in 1183 by Premonstratensian monks, by the upper reaches of the Schussen river. Over the centuries, the monastery became increasingly grand, until it was partially destroyed by fire in the Thirty Years’ War. In the mid-18 th century, the architect Dominikus Zimmermann was commissioned by the then Abbot Magnus Kleber to draw up plans for a new monastery building. For financial reasons, however, the ambitious development was never completed.
Today, the monastery unites architecture and works of art from the late Romanesque era to the Rococo. The highlight of Zimmermann’s design is the library in the central part of the three wing complex. Flooded with natural light, the ornately decorated room is one of the most significant architectural examples of southern German Rococo. With its impressive artwork, the library is regarded as the most spectacular element of the monastery – and one of the main attractions on the Upper Swabian Baroque Route: Spanning two floors, the bookcases house a collection that was, in its day, one of the most extensive in German-speaking Europe.
The ceiling fresco, completed by Franz Georg Hermann in 1757, depicts divine wisdom on a grand and glorious scale, covering the Apocalypse, science, art and technology.
The best-known image from the fresco shows the enterprising canon Caspar Mohr. In the 17th century, he constructed a feathered flying machine, almost becoming the aviation pioneer of Upper Swabia – generations before the Zeppelin airship was invented.
Another of Schussenried Monastery’s special features is located in the choir of the monastery chapel: the ornately carved walnut choir stalls were crafted by Georg Anton Machein between 1715 and 1717. Reliefs carved in lime adorn the dorsals at the back of the stalls, depicting scenes including the Passion of Christ.
A recently developed interactive museum sheds light on the history of the monastery, the role of science and the religious way of life. A new permanent exhibition and a rich programme of temporary exhibits make Schussenried Monastery an important element of the region’s cultural scene. In short, every visit is a truly uplifting experience.