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The monastery’s history

The Benedictine Monastery in Lübeck was the predecessor of the Cismar Monastery – originally inhabited by monks, later also by nuns. The newly admitted nuns caused complaints about dissolute life. A document from 1231 notes complaints about the monks’ failing discipline. Allegedly – but not provably – the monks therefore were supposed to move to the flat country. However, the genuine reasons for this were more likely of an economic and religious nature: cultivation of the land and spreading Christianity.

In 1238, Graf Adolf IV von Holstein bestowed the Order his property in Cismar. In 1249, the Johannis source, located there, was declared holy. Today, it still is a centre of attraction for pilgrims. Despite all of this, the monks only moved to Cismar reluctantly, some of them fully refused to move there. In 1256, the Pope intervened with the result that all the monks permanently had to move over to the monastery.

In 1325, the Cismar Monastery owned 22 entire villages and two halves of villages in Holstein as well as further villages in Mecklenburg. Several outbuildings as well as 11 hectares’ land belonged to the monastery itself.

The construction of the monastery building was completed in 1330.

The artistic (church and altar), liberal arts (monastery library, today in the Copenhagen State Library) and agricultural achievements showed the monastery in its absolute medieval heyday for two centuries.

1561: The monastery was withdrawn as a result of the reformation. The monastery’s library came to Schloss Gottorf and was moved from there to Copenhagen. The monastery became a manor, Johannes Stricker the first Protestant pastor in Cismar.

In 1767/68, the monastery was reconstructed and the western laymen’s part redesigned as a flat for the ducal bailiff Reinhold von Sievers.

The eastern part with a choir stall has been used as a Protestant parish church since 1835.

Following the mid-19th century census, Cismar became German. It was the official residence of the Oldenburg district authority until 1921. Following this, it has been used as a youth hostel, a refugee camp and for the district authority.

It was comprehensively refurbished from 1982 to 1987. Since then, the ensemble belongs to the Schleswig-Holstein state museum, now Schleswig-Holstein State Museums Foundation Schloss Gottorf.

Schleswig-Holstein State Museums
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