German Language Blog

Building a Carolingian abbey Posted by on Mar 19, 2012 in Culture, Traditions

As I checked the news today, I read an article about an extraordinary project in Germany that I want to share with you.

In a Wald (forest) near the town of Meßkirch ,which is situated in Baden-Württemberg close to Bodensee (Lake Constance), a medieval abbey and village are going to be built – strictly under historical circumstances. That means: No machines, no coffee, no raincoats. The projects is going to be realized only with materials and resources that were used in the 9th century.

As I read this, my first question was “Why”? But the reason is simple: This way, scientists try to gain new expertise of the Mittelalter (medieval times). In addition, the whole projects is going to be public. That means that visitors could take a look at the Baustelle (building site) and get a real impression of the people and circumstances of the middle ages. “Living history” is the keyword for this kind of concept as opposed to staring at dead artefacts in a museum.

The plan of the Kloster (abbey) and the village is based on the “St. Gallener Klosterplan” that was drawn in the 9th century by the abbot Haito of Reichenau. In his opinion this was the plan for a perfect abbey but it has never been built this way.

More than 1100 years later, Bert Geurten, the executive board of an association that was established to realize the project, set himself the goal to finish the plan. The whole complex consists of 52 buildings. The village is not only planned for Mönche (monks)…there would be Landwirtschaft (agriculture), Schmiede (blacksmiths), Werkzeugmacher (toolmakers) and Schreiner (carpenters) as well. Even a medical unit would be installed. Because in the medieval times, the church didn´t want their monks to leave the complex of the abbey and stay untempted.

Today the first Schätzungen (estimations) say that the complex would be finished in about 40 years. In 2012 a lot of preparations are made and from spring 2013, the first oxcarts are going to pull stones to the construction site. From the mortar to the walls, from rain protection to the Speiseplan (bill of fare) – everything should be like in the 9th century. The craftsmen will earn little money and there will only be one free weekend in 8 months. Even the visitors won´t have a chance to eat French fries and drink Coke during their stopover at the construction site. Everything is going to be cultivated and manufactured on the fields around the village.

By the way: the visitors are a major part of the project, because the Finanzierung (funding) of the abbey will consist of entrance fees.

Bert Geurten says, that goals is not to have an abbey and the village around it, but to built it! He has 62 years now. In 2050, when the abbey will be finished, he probably wouldn´t be alive anymore. But he dares to have a Grab (tomb) in the crypt for being the founding father.

What an odd project isn´t it?

Here´s a little documentary that I found on youtube (German):

Some vocabulary to this post:
der Wald – forest
der Bodensee – Lake Constance
das Mittelalter – medieval times or middle age
die Baustelle – building site
das Kloster – abbey
der Mönch – monk
die Landwirtschaft – agriculture
der Schmied – blacksmith
der Werkzeugmacher – toolmaker
der Schreiner – carpenter
die Schätzung – estimation
der Speiseplan – bill of fare or menu
die Finanzierung – funding
das Grab – tomb

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About the Author: jan

My name is Jan and I live in the south west of Germany. My profession is being a project manager at a company that creates digital media (first of all internet related things). This is my job since over a decade so I´m quite familiar with the web and its tools. Whereat today almost every school kid does. But that´s one of the main reasons why nowadays there are quasi no more limits in the internet and so it can be used for all imaginable types of things. For example learning languages! And that´s where we are at the moment. I first got in touch with Transparent Language when my family and I used to live in France a couple of years ago. I just had a break from work and by coincidence I produced some cultural videos in French. A few months later the whole blogging thing came up and I was lucky to be a part of it. So now my (second) job is to feed you with information, exercises, vocabulary, grammar and stories about Germany and German language. For being a passionate videographer I´m trying to do this more and more by videos. If you have any wishes or needs of topics that should be treated here, please don´t hesitate to contact me via a comment field. I´m open to your suggestions (as long as they are not too individual) and will try to satisfy your needs.


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