Cornberg Monastery

Founded around 700 years ago as a Benedictine monastery, Cornberg Monastery has gone through a chequered history. After its revitalisation in the 1990s, it is now a cultural centre with many uses and a popular destination for excursions.

At a glance

Am Steinbruch 1
36219 Cornberg

Outdoor grounds freely accessible

A map of Hessen HESSEN


The Benedictine convent of Cornberg emerged from the Beguinage in Bubenbach, a Christian community of women without religious vows and seclusion, which had probably formed in the context of the poverty movement of the early 13th century.

This community subordinated itself to the Benedictine imperial abbey of Hersfeld in 1230 and moved to the more sheltered valley of Cornberg between 1292 and 1296. The foundation of the monastery that accompanied this move was presumably at the instigation of the Burgmannen

of the neighbouring Boyneburg. The construction of the monastery was intended not least to provide a livelihood for the unmarried women of the family.

Cornberg Monastery

View from the west of the Cornberg monastery grounds with former church and convent building

Foto: Stephan Peters, 2014

The simple monastery buildings are made of the characteristically banded Cornberg sandstone. They are arranged around a square courtyard. The northern wing is formed by the church, built shortly before 1300 and dedicated to Mary, a single-nave building with a bell tower and a nuns’ gallery that is still preserved today.

Dowries and donations

In 1393, 28 nuns were documented as living in the convent. They mainly came from the regional nobility and brought in significant dowries when they joined. In addition, the monastery had numerous noble patrons who made rich donations to the order until the end of the 14th century.

Owned by the State of Hesse since the Post-war Period

In 1526, the monastery was dissolved in the course of the Reformation and the building complex was converted into an agricultural estate, which was entirely owned by the landgraves until 1834. In the following period until 1964, the complex was managed as a state domain. This included 22 additional residential and farm buildings as well as more than 300 hectares of fields and meadows.

Since 1946, the care of the site has been the responsibility of the State of Hesse. The dilapidated farm and residential buildings around the monastery were demolished between 1957 and 1994, and the Gothic monastery quadrangle was extensively renovated between 1990 and 1994.

A Stage for Culture

Today, the church is used as a cultural stage. The east wing houses a hotel, while the south wing houses the community centre with meeting rooms and a bowling alley. In the west wing, the former convent building, is the Cornberg Sandstone Museum.

South of the monastery grounds is the disused sandstone quarry, which is one of Hesse’s outstanding geotopes and can be visited.

Cornberg Monastery, courtyard

Inner courtyard of the monastery

Foto: Stephan Peters, 2014

Cornberg Monastery, well

Fountain in the inner courtyard

Foto: Stephan Peters, 2014

Cornberg Monastery, bell tower

Bell tower of the former monastery church

Foto: Stephan Peters, 2014

Cornberg Monastery, restaurant

East wing of the monastery quarter, today a hotel and restaurant

Foto: Stephan Peters, 2014