Benedictine monastery belonging to the Hirsau reform movement since 1107, ruin of a Romanesque monastery with Zinsboden, hunting lodge of the House of Schwarzburg from the 17th century in the Renaissance style
„Einsam steh’n des öden Tempels Säulen, / Epheu rankt am unverschlossnen Tor. / Nichts ist bleibend, alles eilt von hinnen, / Jammer und erhörter Liebe Glück. / Und der Schöpfung größtes Meisterstück / Sinkt veraltet in den Staub zurück.“ (Lonesome stand the columns of the deserted temple, / Ivy has entwined itself around the unlocked gate. / Nothing is forever, everything rushes hence, / Misery and the happiness of returned love. / And the greatest masterpiece of creation / Sinks back into the ashes obsolete.” It has not been unequivocally proved that the writer of these lines found in the monastery’s visitor’s book was actually Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805). After all, as Johann Wolfgang Goethe wrote, in those days it was “not yet fashionable to regard these church ruins as being highly important and venerable” However, as someone had “praised the magnificent sight” Goethe decided to spend his 68th birthday here. From what he saw Goethe as an authority on architecture drew the conclusion that the building was erected at the beginning of the 12th century, “when the half-circle was still in use.
The Reformation transferred the monastery back to the wilderness where it originally came from; the spiritual aim had disappeared, but the monastery remains a centre of secular rights and income to this day...”
Not far from Bad Blankenburg, in the quietness of the idyllic Rottenbach valley, between 1102 and 1105 the Saxon noblewoman Paulina set up the monastery first called Marienzelle. In 1107 it joined the reform movement which had its origin in the monastery of Hirsau in the Black Forest. As a logical consequence monks from Hirsau experienced in architecture helped to build Paulinzella Monastery, as it was renamed shortly after the death of its founder (1107).
Although the monastery church is now only an impressive Romanesque ruin, what was erected in several construction stages and consecrated in 1124 is still considered an excellent example of the Hirsau reform movement, which at that time was accepted by more than 100 monasteries. After the Reformation the monastery fell into disrepair, entire sections of “stonework” were dismantled for the construction of Gehren Castle and other buildings; a fire caused additional loss. At the end of the 18th century views changed and the protection of what was left began.
On the grounds of the monastery, belonging to the Palace, Castle and Gardens Trust since 1994, there are the ruins of the monastery church used for concerts in the summer, the so-called Zinsboden, partly from the second half of the 12th century and probably a conversion of an earlier hospital, the former enclosure, later rebuilt as an administration building, and the hunting lodge of the counts of Schwarzburg, erected in the style of the Renaissance on the foundation walls of the abbot’s house and used for museum purposes since 2002.