Ebrach Abbey is a daughter of Morimond. It is the eldest Cistercian monastery on the right side of the Rhine and plays a key role in the order‘s eastern expansion. Viticulture, silviculture and pond farming are characterstic factors for this monastic landscape in the wooded region of Steigerwald.
Founded in 1127, Ebrach already had seven granges by 1136, and by 1158 six daughter monasteries had been founded. From the 13th to the 15th century, the abbey’s estate grew impressiviely, making it one of the wealthiest monasteries in Franconia. It belonged to the bishopric of Würzburg until its dissolution in 1803 in the course of secularization when it became Bavarian. Today it houses a juvenile detention center.
The core property of Ebrach Abbey was in the northern Steigerwald in the socalled “Mönchgau”, which roughly corresponds to the area of today’s administrative community of Ebrach-Burgwindheim. The socalled “Möncheigen” around the official administrative seat of Sulzheim and surrounding villages lay in the Steigerwaldvorland, to the east lay the official administrative seat Oberschwappach. Other important seats and winegrowing locations were Mainstockheim (since 1136) and Elgersheim (since 1178). Ebrach’s possessions also extended towards Nuremberg and Schwabach on both sides of the Rednitz. Some of the farms lay like a ring around the abbey. The Waldschwinder Hof (since 1154) is an example of this.
Under abbot Alberich Degen (1658-1686) and his successors, particularly Wilhelm Sölner (1714 to 1741), Ebrach, all its seats and town courts as well as many village churches in its estate were reerected in baroque forms.
The Ebrach monks were influence on the cultural landscape was profound, esp. with regard to wine and forestry. Keeping sheep was also of central importance. The impressive woodlands surrounding Ebrach today, seen as characteristic of the region, are the result of the monks activities.
Author/Photo: Büttner, Schmähling