We headed to Blaubeuren from Stuttgart on a overcast Saturday morning. Our agenda was to see the Blue Lake (Blautopf) and the Abbey (Kloster Blaubeuren). We had no idea there was so much more.
We visited after some COVID-19 restrictions had been lifted, but we still had to wear our masks when prompted by the signs.
The city's prosperity, which is reflected in its buildings, is closely linked to the history of the monastery. As a market town, Blaubeuren attracted the people who settled around the monastery as early as the 11th century. The hydropower of Aach and Blau was used differently in seven mills and gave many people bread and work.
The location on what was then the main connection between Augsburg and Strasbourg via Tübingen favored further development. Blaubeuren was a place worth living in even then. The bloom lasted well beyond the late Middle Ages, when the monastery was no longer a religious seat. Trade flourished, and political importance grew, after all, Blaubeuren was even the official city in the Kingdom of Württemberg. In Blaubeuren, evidence of these epochs forms a picturesque ensemble of a tranquil, yet lively, self-confident small town with its own flair.
As we approached the lake, we noticed it was a deep blue and as clear as glass. As we walked the trail around the lake, it began to change colors, from blue to a light green and finally to a blueish-green. The end of the trail brings you out on Mühlweg where you can continue along the Abbey's wall and find entrance into the Kloster grounds through a variety of personal gardens and small foot bridges covering the Blau river.
Nestled in the woodline off the Klosterhof is the the Bathhouse of the Monks (Badhaus der Mönche)-- a late medieval half-timbered building and the only surviving monastic bath in a monastery complex in Germany. This was a monastic bath house-- a Middle Ages wellness spa. The hot water was prepared and then scooped into large wooden vats can still be clearly seen today. There are a few minutes of video inside the bathhouse where we point out some neat features and cool artifacts.
Back on the Klosterhof, we headed due west for about 100 meters and entered the Blaubeuren Abbey (Kloster Blaubeuren). A Medieval-era monastery made of stone and wood, with high ceilings and an elaborate Gothic altar, it was a house of the Benedictine Order. Founded in 1085 by the Counts of Rück and Tübingen, the first abbot, Adzelinus, and monks were from Hirsau Abbey. There is a small entrance fee, but well worth the few euros to see how marvelous the abbey and grounds really are. There are some great pictures on our Instagram and a video on our YouTube channel if you're interested in seeing more of the abbey.
After leaving the Abbey, we wandered into the Old Town (Alte Stadtmauer) to have a look around. Things were pretty quiet, but we came across the Urgeschichtliches Museum. A Pre-Historic Museum that is the central museum for the prehistoric finds in this region. It shows you how Neanderthals and early modern humans lived during the last ice age and what happened when the two met 40,000 years ago… Some of the major artifacts in the museum are the Venus vom Hohle Fels- A mammoth ivory figure and the oldest known figurative work of art of mankind at 40,000 years old. There are three of the oldest musical instruments in the world-- Two made from wing bones of birds and the third was even carved out of solid mammoth ivory. All three are around 40,000 years old. Finally, there’s The Lion People. 40,000 years ago, humans created mysterious hybrids of humans and lions and here you can take a look at the original of the Little Lion Man. What I we found most fascinating was that the artifacts were all discovered just down the road from Blaubeuren in the Swabian Jura caves.
We packed up in the car and headed south on B492 to the Hohle Fels—the largest of six caves located in the Lone and Ach Valleys, all which were used by Ice Age humans for shelter about 33,000 to 43,000 years ago.
There was a small fee to enter and after paying, there are a few static displays that illustrate the excavation and findings of the cave. We headed up the metal stairs and across the steel walkway into an enormous cavern—absolutely breathtaking. The cave was not well lit, so we did manage to take some good video inside and we were even given a demonstration by the curator on an ancient whistle using a string and a piece of wood.
Be sure to check out these other great sites and activities when you're in Blaubeuren:
Sirgenstein Cave (Sirgensteinhöhle)
Höhle "Kleine Grotte" Blaubeuren