Johannesberg Priory is a place steeped in history. The Baroque church with castle complex and garden has its beginnings in the Carolingian period. Initially, Johannesberg was a pilgrimage centre and, under Rabanus Maurus, a subsidiary monastery of Fulda Abbey, later a provostry and state domain. Today, the restored grounds allow visitors to experience the historical architecture and garden art.
In its almost 800 years of existence, the monastery of Johannesberg has experienced a varied history marked by destruction and structural changes. Built in 811 by the Fulda Benedictine monastery as St. John‘s Church, it housed relics of early Christian martyrs from 836 onwards and was raised to the status of a subsidiary monastery under Abbot Rabanus Maurus. Around 1000, the Carolingian church was replaced by a three-nave pillar basilica. After a fire around 1190, the church tower presumably received its Romanesque portal, which still exists today, and remnants of early Gothic wall paintings have survived on the first floor of the tower. The rest of the Romanesque building had to make way for a late Gothic church around 1500. With the Thirty Years‘ War, monastic life ended and Johannesberg became a mere provostry for the administration of the extensive landholdings.
Living Quarters of the Provost on the 1st Floor
The church was given its present form under Provost Bonifaz von Buseck between 1686 and 1691, while the rest of the provostry complex essentially dates back to the tenure of Konrad von Mengersen (1715-1753), who had it redesigned according to the plans of the Fulda court architect Andrea Galasini and extended by a completely new residential palace. The so-called “Red Building” is largely preserved in its original state today. On the first floor are the former living quarters of the provost, and on the first floor the banqueting hall with a ceiling painting by the Fulda court painter Emanuel Wohlhaupter.
Garden with Viewpoints
Although the garden was planned at that time, it was probably only partially executed. It is divided along the aforementioned central axis into a large upper terrace and, sloping down to the east towards the Fulda floodplain, into further smaller terraces and slopes. “Points de vues”, i.e. viewpoints, create connections to Adolfseck Castle and the former mother monastery.
Conversion to State Domain
After secularisation in 1802, the building complex was used as a state domain and for farming for about 170 years. The cessation of farming in the 1970s and the gradual deterioration of the historic buildings made it necessary to put Johannesberg Priory to a new, sustainable use. The extensive restoration and renovation work on the buildings and the garden extended over three decades. While it was possible to reconstruct the condition of the Baroque palace and garden complex from the first half of the 18th century on the upper terrace, the two lower parterres reflect the time of domain use.
Today, Johannesberg Priory is home to companies and institutions active in the fields of monument conservation, tourism and qualification, such as above all the German Centre for Crafts and Monument Conservation. The former provost church, which is cared for by the diocese of Fulda, is part of the parish of Saint John the Baptist.