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Barefoot Monks in the Valley of the Blessed


After my move to Siegburg, it took me several years before I realized how close to a jewel of Mendicant architecture I live, namely in Seligenthal, at the foot of the Wahnbach Dam.

Around 1230, shortly after the death of St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226), Mendicants came to the Rhineland and found charitable patrons in count Heinrich III of Sayn and his wife Mechthild.

During the late twelfth century, the Sayns, an important Rhenish noble family, lived on a rocky spur along the river Sieg, on which they had founded the castle and town of Blankenberg. Their relations with the Benedictine Abbey in Siegburg and the Archbishop of Cologne were not always harmonious.

Around 1231, the count and countess allowed the Mendicants to build a small monastery on their land in the Wahn Valley - likely the first Franciscan monastery north of the Alps.

How the Franciscans must have felt in this solitude of the forest along the stream, a place which would have delighted the Cistercians. The rules of the Friars Minor stipulated the duties of preaching and nursing, and they had to beg in order to fulfill their vow of poverty. Yet, benefactors and an audience they could find not far from their hermitage on the old road from Cologne to Frankfurt.

In 1255, they consecrated the Church of St. Anthony, the oldest Franciscan church in Germany.

IMG 6913  6903Seligental modAP


It only has two naves. The southern nave was part of the cloister, which, together with other monastic buildings, was constructed later.

Art historically, the building represents a transitional phase between Rhenish Late Romanesque and Gothic. The fan windows, arched friezes, as well as niches in the gable of the western facade are late Romanesque. The ribbed vaults and pointed arches in the interior are Gothic.

Despite repeated restorations, the building nowadays radiates a characteristic impression of the original church. Noteworthy are the beautiful color schemes, based on the original plaster- and paint residues.


Translation: Erik Eising (MA)


Buildings of the Templars



Despite intensive research, the first monastic chivalric order from the crusades still leaves many puzzles unsolved. It remains shrouded in mysteries.

This may be due to the enigmatic rites, the fabulous wealth, but also to the shameful end of the Order and its leaders, Jacques de Molay and Geoffroy de Charnay, who burnt at the stake  in 1314.


5377 modAP klTemplar Chapel in Laon (F) - around 1150


Despite intensive research, the first monastic chivalric order from the crusades still leaves many puzzles unsolved. It remains shrouded in mysteries.

This may be due to the enigmatic rites, the fabulous wealth, but also to the shameful end of the Order and its leaders, Jacques de Molay and Geoffroy de Charnay, who burnt at the stake in 1314.

Pope Clement V, residing in France and dependent on the heavily indebted French King Philip IV (the Fair), had already dissolved the Order in 1312.

Due to general interest, a number of towns in Central and Western Europe claim to be adorned with Templar chapels or churches.

According to Alain Demurger, not all of these deserve this classification. This applies to the chapel in Metz or the round churches of Bornholm, sometimes ascribed to the Templars. A number of supposed Templar chapels are actually attributable to the Hospitallers.

 Templer 022kleinTemplar Castle in Pontferrada (E) - 12th century


The majority of Templar architecture has fallen victim to the ravages of time. The castle in Ponferrada ist probably the sole preserved in Europe.


Demurger, Alain, Die Templer, Aufstieg und Untergang, Verlag C.H. Beck, München, 1991



Translation: Erik Eising (MA)


British Indian Ocean Territory


I suppose there will be two questions coming up immediately when reading this: Where is this place, and why is it mentioned here?

We are talking about a group of seven atolls between Tanzania and Indonesia under British rule. Says wikipedia. I never heard about it before.

Flag of the British Indian Ocean Territory svgFlag of the British Indian Ocean Territory


And the Why? The statistics of my server keep telling me of several hundred hits from persons on these windswept or – more probably –sunbaked islands.

I find this amazing, and I’m happy to see that this blog reaches far into the world, to interesting and probably lonesome places.

Thank you, my unknown friends in the British Indian Ocean Territory!


How high is the value of Cologne Cathedral?

I noticed that an old blog entry, titled "How much does Cologne Cathedral cost?", is again frequently read, and I suspect that the recent reports on the book value of the monument are the reason.

For those readers who do not live in the orbit of the Cologne regional press, here are some notes.

The Cathedral has a book value of 27 Euro's!!! (Twenty-seven).

How so, when experts estimate the costs of constructing the Cathedral anew at 3 billion Euro's?


IMG 7522 kl


The actual value of the Cathedral, as it stands before us as a Gesamtkunstwerk, can not be estimated and is not necessary to know. The Cathedral - what a surprise - is not for sale.

Nevertheless, there needs to be an entry in the books of the Archdiocese, as a memorandum, so to speak. As if it would be possible to forget that there is a cathedral. Yet the rules are the rules.

Why 27 Euro's? The Cathedral is built on 26 plots of land, each valued at 1 Euro - plus 1 Euro for the Cathedral itself.

I propose we don't leave the Cathedral merely in Cologne - as the song proposes - but aquire the full and wide admiration of this great achievement by Gothic builders, even if it's been entered in the books for only 1 Euro.


Translation: Erik Eising, (MA)


The End of Modesty


It is usually assumed that the great artists of the Middle Ages are anonymous to us. Art historians are often compelled to give these creators of images, sculptures and cathedrals so-called notnamen or 'names of convenience', such as the 'Master of Cabestany' or the 'Naumburg Master', to name but two of hundreds.

Recent research has filled some gaps in the anonymity of these medieval masters. Especially in painting and manuscript illumination, hidden references can occassionally be found.

Sculptors also remained anonymous, especially up until the High Middle Ages. There is a famous twelfth-century inscription in the western tympanum of the Cathedral of St. Lazare in Autun, however, with which a Gislebertus pointed out that "Gislebertus hoc fecit". Yet, it is unclear whether Gislebertus was the tympanum's sculptor or its patron.



Nbg 10 33 Lorenz nbg Adam Kraft mod AP



During the later Middle Ages, artists slowly became less restrained. Numerous masters have immortalized themselves in churches, often through self-portraits. One of the most beautiful of these can be found in the St. Lorenz church in Nuremberg: with his tools, and in the company of his assistants, the stern looking master Adam Kraft points towards a tabernacle created by him in the 15th century  .



Translation: Erik Eising (MA)


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