Lehnin Cistercian Abbey

History

Founded in 1180, the Cistercian abbey in Lehnin soon outgrew its importance as an Ascanian family abbey and burial place. After a precarious period in the 14th century, in the 15th century – economically revived – it made a name for itself as a centre of learning, with a monastic school and a well-equipped library. With its secularisation in 1542, Lehnin was redesignated as an electoral estate. After devastation in the Thirty Years’ War, parts of the complex were converted into a hunting lodge. The derelict abbey church was reconstructed in the 1870s. Since the early 20th century the former abbey has housed a deaconesses’ home.

Site

The Lehnin abbey church was built in the typical Cistercian fashion, with a cruciform shape and ridge turrets. The three-aisled, pillared basilica, which displays both late-Romanesque and early Gothic forms, is one of the most significant buildings in the Brandenburg region. With its imposing abbey church and the enclosure to the south, the original agricultural yard – comprising of brewhouse, granary, and barns – as well as the gate chapel and former hospital (the “King’s House”), Lehnin Abbey forms an almost complete picture of a Cistercian abbey site, albeit one that has been changed throughout the centuries. The eastern wing of the enclosure houses the restored rooms of the chapter house and the library.

Location

Nestled in a valley basin surrounded by pine forests, Lehnin Abbey enables visitors to slow down and relax in picturesque settings. The numerous lakes in the vicinity are a particular attraction. Located just 20 km south-west of Potsdam, Lehnin Abbey is also easily reached by bicycle. Hiking routes, such as the Way of St. James, pass through the grounds of the abbey.

Highlights

Today, the former abbey church is the parish church of Lehnin and venue for many concerts. Located on the altar steps, a petrified oak trunk evokes the myth-enshrouded founding phase of the abbey. Since 2005, the Lehnin Monastery Museum has been housed in the abbey’s former administrative office.