Wel­tenburg lies embed­ded in an ancient cul­tur­al land­scape where evi­dence of human habi­ta­tion reach­es back to the Neolith­ic Age (4500–3500 BCE). Ris­ing steeply to the south of the abbey, the Arzberg – also called Frauen­berg on account of the Chapel of Our Lady that stands there today – was the site of an impor­tant hill­top set­tle­ment dur­ing the Ear­ly Bronze Age, Urn­field, and Ear­ly La Tène peri­ods (c. 1800–400 BCE). In the 1st cen­tu­ry CE, a small mil­i­tary camp was estab­lished by the Romans in what is now the devel­op­ment area “Gal­get“ above the vil­lage of Wel­tenburg. By the sec­ond half of the 7th cen­tu­ry, there is evi­dence of a set­tle­ment with a wood­en church at the site of what is now Staub­ing. The choice of St. George as the patron of the abbey prob­a­bly points to a foun­da­tion in late antiq­ui­ty, when a pas­toral cen­tre or a hos­tel for pil­grims may have stood on the site. A name­sake Wel­to is first men­tioned in the 8th cen­tu­ry. Lat­er, Wel­tenburg was a pos­ses­sion of the bish­op of Regens­burg and had close ties to the abbey of St. Emmer­am. The sto­ry that Saints Eusta­sius and Agilus, pupils of St. Colum­ba, found­ed the abbey in the ear­ly 7th cen­tu­ry was only brought up by schol­ars of the 18th cen­tu­ry. Wel­tenburg is first men­tioned in writ­ten doc­u­ments in 889. St. Wolf­gang, who was bish­op of Regens­burg from 972 to 994, expand­ed the hill­top cas­tle and for­ti­fied the entire Frauen­berg hill. An abbot is first men­tioned as resid­ing in the abbey in 1040. The Romanesque abbey church – a sim­ple rec­tan­gu­lar build­ing with a long sin­gle nave, a square choir across its full width, and a crypt – was con­se­crat­ed in 1191 and remained in use until 1716. Abbot Con­rad V (reigned 1441–1450) ren­o­vat­ed the church and abbey build­ings and breathed new life into the com­mu­ni­ty and admin­is­tra­tion of the abbey. Wel­tenburg owes its endur­ing fame, how­ev­er, to Abbot Mau­rus Bächl (1713– 1743), a gift­ed orga­niz­er, leader and finan­cial genius. He was respon­si­ble for the con­struc­tion of the present-day Baroque com­plex, which cul­mi­nat­ed in a church designed and dec­o­rat­ed by the Asam fam­i­ly. He also ini­ti­at­ed the refur­bish­ment of the incor­po­rat­ed parish church­es with their farms and estates, the con­struc­tion of a mill and school, and the pur­chase of the manor of Affeck­ing. Dur­ing the Aus­tri­an War of Suc­ces­sion, the abbey was sub­ject­ed to large mon­e­tary con­tri­bu­tions and com­man­deered for quar­ter­ing troops. Faced with the ero­sion of his achieve­ment, and worn out by the con­tin­u­ous inter­nal con­flicts of the abbey, Mau­rus I resigned in 1743. His suc­ces­sor, Mau­rus II Kam­mer­maier (1744–1777), con­cen­trat­ed on expand­ing the abbey library, muse­um, and sci­en­tif­ic and math­e­mat­i­cal col­lec­tions. The next abbot, Rupert Walx­häuser (1778–1786), presided over a bur­geon­ing of musi­cal life which includ­ed such tal­ents as the monk Fr. Ben­no Grue­ber. Her­ald­ed by the con­fis­ca­tion of the abbey church’s sil­ver and an edict pro­hibit­ing the admis­sion of new novices, the dis­so­lu­tion of Wel­tenburg abbey was enact­ed by order of the Bavar­i­an State on March 18, 1803. Abbot Bene­dict Wern­er relo­cat­ed to Munich, where he com­posed a 24-vol­ume chron­i­cle of Wel­tenburg and a 9‑volume his­to­ry of the abbey’s musi­cal tra­di­tion. The abbey brew­ery and farm build­ings were sold, but the church and monastery found no buy­er, and from 1812, they served as a local parish church and priests’ lodg­ings, and as a school and teach­ers’ accom­mo­da­tion. In 1842, at the insti­ga­tion of King Lud­wig I, the Wel­tenburg com­mu­ni­ty was recon­sti­tut­ed as a pri­o­ry of the Bene­dic­tine abbey of Met­ten. Funds were pro­vid­ed to ren­o­vate the prop­er­ty and repur­chase its for­mer pos­ses­sions, includ­ing the brew­ery. In 1913, Wel­tenburg final­ly regained its full abba­tial sta­tus. Today, its main task lies in pas­toral care, par­tic­u­lar­ly in its two parish­es, and in adult edu­ca­tion. St. George’s Pas­toral Cen­tre (inau­gu­rat­ed in 2014) hosts con­fer­ences, sem­i­nars, days of rec­ol­lec­tion, and retreats. The abbey’s long musi­cal tra­di­tion lives on in con­certs staged by the Wel­tenburg Musi­cal Soci­ety. Under the present abbot, Thomas M. Frei­hart (elect­ed 1998), the abbey church was com­plete­ly ren­o­vat­ed for a cost of c. € 6.5 mil­lion, while the monas­tic build­ings and cliff-side cel­lars (now the vis­i­tors’ cen­tre) were refur­bished, and effec­tive flood con­trol mea­sures installed. The entire project began in 1999 and was com­plet­ed in 2008.