Ebrach monastery, founded as Morimond‘s daughter in the Middle Ebrach Valley, is the oldest Cistercian monastery on the right bank of the Rhine and plays a key role in the order‘s eastern movement. The monastery was one of the wealthiest in Franconia, with the princebishopric of Würzburg as sovereign. Viticulture and silviculture as well as fish farming shaped the monastic cultural landscape in the wooded area of the Steigerwald.
The Ebrach Abbey was founded in 1127 in the Middle Ebrach Valley. The daughter Morimonds is the oldest monastery of the Cistercian order on the right bank of the Rhine and experienced its first flowering under Abbot Adam in the 12th century.
There were already seven grangia in 1136, and six subsidiaries were founded by 1158. From the 13th to the 15th century, there was an extensive expansion of the company’s own and fiefdom holdings. Ebrach grew into one of the wealthiest monasteries in Franconia with the Prince-Bishopric of Würzburg as the sovereign.
The monastery was closed in 1803 and now houses a juvenile detention center.
The core property of the Ebrach monastery was in the northern Steigerwald in Mönchgau, which roughly corresponds to the area of today’s administrative community of Ebrach. The so-called Möncheigen with the official place of Sulzheim and surrounding villages was in the old settled Steigerwaldvorland, to the east bordering the official place Oberschwappach. Other important offices and winegrowing locations were Mainstockheim (since 1136) and Elgersheim (since 1178). Ebrach’s possessions also existed between Nuremberg and Schwabach on both sides of the Rednitz. Some of the farms lay like a ring around the abbey, including the Waldschwinder Hof (since 1154).
Abbot Alberich Degen (1658-1686) and his successors, particularly Wilhelm Sölner (1714 to 1741), saw a new heyday of Ebrach. Official and town courts, not least many village churches, were newly built.
The Ebrach monks were particularly influential in terms of the cultural landscape due to their wine and forestry. Keeping sheep was also very important. The surrounding forests of Ebrach are the result of monastic activity, the mixed deciduous forest with a high proportion of beech is still characteristic of the region.
Author/Photo: Thomas Büttner