Founding date: 1133 (order number 70 according to Janauschek)
Dissolution date: 1803
Filiation/Mother Monastery: Morimond Monastery
Daughter monasteries: Mariental Monastery (1143), Łekno Monastery (1143) and 6 other monasteries

Altenberg Abbey, founded directly from Morimond, is located in the Dhünntal valley north-east of Cologne. Its historical cultural landscape is still well preserved today with many elements and structures. Water was of great importance as a driving force for mills and the basis for the fishing industry. The Altenberg farmsteads were of an extraordinary size for the time and were connected to the most important trade route via the Cologne Stadthof.

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The cultural landscape

The Altenberg monastery landscape in the Bergisches Land region comprises an area of great historical value, surrounded by farming systems in a low mountain range. Characteristic are valleys with favorable hydrological conditions. There were spatial relationships with city courts in the Rhineland, especially in Cologne, and a very extensive European economic system.

In 1133, Cistercian monks from Morimond founded a daughter monastery. In 1145, they moved their monastery to the Dhünn. Wooded land was cleared and the distribution of forest and open land is still a characteristic feature today. Numerous granges supplied the monastery complex. Altenberg founded filitations in Eastern Europe.

After secularization in 1803, the uses changed. Romanticism gave the ruins of the church building a new level of meaning, which is captured in depictions by the Düsseldorf School of painting. The cathedral has been used simultaneously since its reconstruction in 1836-47.

In the European context, Altenberg is an example of the Cistercian principles of site selection and subsequent “stabilitas loci” in the spiritual idea of the whole. “Ora et labora” are combined in a cultural landscape structure that can still be read today and at the same time represents an intangible cultural heritage.

The small-scale isolated location in a large-scale economically strong area is a special feature. The continuity of use as a place of education, music and romantic perception is remarkable. Today, Altenberg is an anchor point of regional identity with high visitor numbers.

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