A photo-blog for those who love history. A blog that makes its way throughout the Federal Republic of Germany, starting in the environs of Stuttgart, in the southern state of Baden-Württemberg. This photographer-writer takes his readers on a photographic journey as he discovers new places to photograph. Follow along as he visits Germany's known and lesser-known places and takes excursions across its borders.
I should have posted this a very long time ago, but I forgot the details of the place and instead of doing my online research then, I just pushed it under the rug. Nevertheless, here it is and here as well goes the short, simple description of my visit one Sunday (or was that a Saturday?) about five years ago to the abbey of Deggingen, located in central Baden-Württemberg, and a lovely drive from Stuttgart.
The Ave Maria Chapel of Deggingen.
It was a gorgeous, late-autumn morning and a friend and I drove out of Stuttgart along a beautiful route lined with forest-filled vistas boasting one of the most beautiful Indian-summer days I had yet experienced in Germany. Yes, 'Indian summer' - Germans seem to have reinvented the meaning of that phrase to refer only to the colorful autumnal foliage, rather than the original way we North Americans use it. I've given up telling them what it really means, but it doesn't really matter. Regardless, the car ride in itself was worth every kilometer and the abbey proved to be the cherry on the cake (chocolate of course) of the day.
The abbey is located in what is known as the Schwäbische Alb (google it ;-). Its Chapel of the Ave Maria was constructed between 1716 and 1718 by a Capuchin Order of monks. In the early 20th century, the monastery itself was built. Today only a small handful of brothers and their pastor live there and offer pastoral care to the community.
The chapel of the Ave Maria itself is known as a pilgrimage church. It belongs to the parish of Deggingen, which can be seen in the background in the photo below. Several of the stations of the cross are also shown in the foreground leading up to the sanctuary.
The abbey buildings are of a simple, yet elegant design. Nestled against the forest which surrounds the abbey on three sides, the pale-lemon paint on the walls of the buildings contributes to the charming scene it creates for approaching visitors.
The chapel ceiling
The golden-orange showpiece above the altar in the photo above is of the Ave Maria. It is late Gothic. I learned from Wikipedia (perish the thought) that it was done by an unknown artist of the 15th century.
The setting of the abbey is indeed lovely and serene. It is still a place of pilgrimage and I can understand why. Since we were there in the fall, apples were for sale everywhere. I really like it when, depending on the season, you are walking along and come upon a table with apples or cherries that are either bagged or are in a little carton and a small sign on the table tells you how much money to leave in the tin for the purchase, and no one is around to make sure everyone is honest. That is trust, and I dare say it is probably usually honored. I've gotten some good fruit that way!
- You can take a regional train (RE) from Stuttgart main station to Geislingen station and then a 22-minute bus ride to the "Abzw. Ave Maria". This would take you about 2 hours.
- The other rail option is to take an inter-city (IC) train from Stuttgart to Göppingen and then the bus for a 1:45-minute trip.
- Lastly, there is an inter-regional express (IRE) which is the fastest from Stuttgart, though it still includes the bus; this is about one hour altogether. I would take this one. The walk from the bus stop to the abbey is very nice. It isn't far at all.
- Otherwise, you can rent a car and find it yourself. Don't forget the navigator. After you turn off the main road there is a parking area below the abbey at the end of the drive.