The monastery church and the provost’s building are among the most beautiful Romanesque buildings in Hesse. Documents from the Staufen period tell of the former Premonstratensian monastery, which experienced its heyday in the late Middle Ages with lands, rental income and donations from nobles.
At a glance
63683 Ortenberg - Konradsdorf
Konrad, a feudal lord of the Benedictine Abbey of Fulda, had founded a manor house in the 8th century west of the Ortenberg district of Selters on a hill above the Nidder. This was converted into a small castle complex around 1000 and, like numerous other castles at the end of the 12th century, was turned into a monastery.
A Monastery with Extensive Property
The monastery was first mentioned in a document in 1191, and the order of Premonstratensian nuns was founded in 1219. This order was particularly attractive to unmarried women of the Wetterau nobility. Through donations from these circles, the convent acquired considerable properties and in its heyday in the 14th century counted 64 nuns, comprised four farms and numerous estates with rental income. The walled complex with its residential and farm buildings corresponds approximately to the former monastery grounds.
In the Centre a Former Three-nave Basilica
The three-nave pillar basilica with semicircular apse was kept quite simple. It was built on the foundations of a smaller Frankish hall church, which was probably part of the earlier castle complex. The northern nave was destroyed in the Thirty Years’ War. Inside, parts of a reddish wall plaster have been preserved, and above the arcades even remains of wall paintings.
The nuns’ gallery was once located in the west, as can be seen from the consoles. The pillar capitals, some of which are decorated with dragon heads, as well as the tomb slabs of the Breuberg family from the Gothic period are of art-historical significance.
A two-storey building adjoins the church to the south. It is located outside the nuns’ former enclosure and probably served as a residence for the provost. He was the spiritual overseer of the monastery and represented it in business dealings with the outside world.
Precious Work by Stonemasons
The building contains a prayer niche on the upper floor and was deliberately designed to be representative with a four-arched arcade and oriented towards the Nidder valley. The precious stone carvings on the window arcades show the vicinity to Münzenberg Castle and Büdingen Castle. The console with three heads on the east side, the remnant of a former chapel oriel, is reminiscent of other castles of the Staufen period.
During the Reformation, the monastery was secularised in 1581 and converted into an estate. After severe destruction of the monastery complex during the Thirty Years’ War, the church was renovated in the 18th century by the Count of Hanau and its choir was slightly baroqueised.
State Investment in the Preservation of the Monastery Church and Provost’s Building
The farm buildings were partly renovated in the second half of the 18th century, and the church was temporarily used as a horse stable with a shepherd’s dwelling. Most of the current farm buildings date from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
After extensive repair, restoration and research, the monastery can now once again be experienced authentically by the public. In a permanent exhibition opened in 2023, selected artefacts provide information on the function and significance of the buildings and bring former monastic life to life.