Cistercian monastery, founded in 1140 as family monastery of the House of Schwarzburg-Käfernburg, monastery ruin with foundations of the basilica and two-storey granary
In Georgenthal, which lies north before the Thuringian Forest, villas in watering-place style of architecture indicate that about 100 years ago this town became a spa. This was also the time when parish priest Paul Baethcke (1850-1936) worked here. Preserved sketches of the excavations he carried out helped to complete the impression visitors have today when they see the remains of the Cistercian monastery of Georgenthal, founded in 1140 by Count Sizzo of Käfernburg and full of life shortly afterwards.
It is quite obvious that with the founding of this monastery, verified by a letter written by Bishop Udo of Naumburg to the Archbishop of Mainz, Count Sizzo wished to secure a strategically significant site verging on the territory of the Ludowingers. The latter had already founded Reinhardsbrunn Monastery in 1085 which later became the family monastery of the Thuringian landgraves. Excavations in the 1960s proved that at first the monastery had been on St. George’s hill not far from the town; however, the monks who had come directly from the mother monastery of Morimond in France moved as soon as a more suitable site was found and prepared in the idyllic Apfelstädt valley.
In a document from 1189 a valley monastery instead of a mountain monastery is mentioned for the first time. Its decline started with the German Peasant War; the monastery was looted, destroyed and finally the stones served as building material. Not even the church, begun in 1152 with details reminiscent of the church of Paulinzella Monastery, was spared.
The financially strong monastery enjoyed a high reputation. From 1505 to 1507 Georg Spalatin, a fellow combatant of Martin Luther, chancellor of Wittenberg and privy secretary of Friedrich the Wise, philosopher and humanist, taught here.