Monastery buildings

Vis­i­tors who approach Wel­tenburg by the river­side road are some­times dis­ap­point­ed by the ensem­ble of build­ings hud­dled against the steep slope of the Frauen­berg hill. Com­pared with oth­er Baroque abbeys, the struc­ture appears more like a cas­tle at first sight – until one pass­es through the two entrance gate­ways and arrives in the irreg­u­lar­ly shaped court­yard. It is only from the riv­er itself that a true impres­sion can be gained of the fine bal­ance Philipp Blank achieved in his over­all plan for the monas­tic com­plex, for the spec­tac­u­lar façade of the monastery build­ings looks direct­ly onto the Danube. Blank tru­ly extract­ed an opti­mum from the topo­graph­i­cal, his­tor­i­cal, and finan­cial cir­cum­stances he encoun­tered in 1714, when work began on the project. With its 45 m high tow­er and the impos­ing drum of the dome, the abbey church forms a com­po­si­tion­al counter to the chapel on the Frauen­berg. Meet­ing in an obtuse angle on the river­bank, the two long, sym­met­ri­cal, triple-storey wings of the monastery express, in their clar­i­ty and sim­plic­i­ty – but also in their func­tion­al divi­sion – the dou­ble imper­a­tive of the Bene­dic­tine rule: “ora et lab­o­ra” (pray and work). At the con­ver­gence of the wings lies a nar­row entrance with a pal­ing gate (dat­ed 1736), above which an enclosed cor­ri­dor link­ing the two struc­tures was lat­er added. The elder Asam had prob­a­bly planned an arched por­tal here, which would have been accessed by an open stair­case flanked by sculptures.

The polyg­o­nal abbey court­yard is closed off on the west­ern side (fac­ing the Danube) by the west wing, erect­ed by F. Beer. It for­mer­ly accom­mo­dat­ed the sta­bles, oil mill, guest rooms, and abbey bailiff’s apart­ments, and now hous­es St. George’s pas­toral cen­tre and a abbey tav­ern. The land­ward gate­way now hous­es the recep­tion of the guest house, and the brew­ery lies to the south. The nar­row court­yard widens towards the east, where the church and monas­tic build­ings lie, which in turn enclose a rec­tan­gu­lar clois­ter gar­den. On the side fac­ing the Danube, the north wing (built by Ph. Blank him­self) hous­es the admin­is­tra­tion, kitchen and refec­to­ry on the ground floor, the prelates’ rooms on the first floor, and prince­ly quar­ters and recre­ation­al rooms on the top floor. To the south of the com­plex, the monas­tic and eco­nom­ic build­ings are con­nect­ed by a curved retain­ing wall crowned by a balustrade. It is pierced by gate­ways lead­ing to the Frauen­berg hill and the cliff-side cel­lars. The lat­ter were orig­i­nal­ly used as fer­ment­ing rooms, but now house the vis­i­tors’ cen­tre and an exhi­bi­tion on Weltenburg’s his­to­ry, cul­ture, and nat­ur­al phenomena.