Eldena Abbey

Eldena Abbey is a former Cistercian monastery, originally named Hilda Abbey. Only ruins survive of the monastery, which was founded in 1199 and is well known as a frequent subject of Caspar David Friedrich's paintings.

Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840) made the ruins of the medieval Cistercian monastery Eldena widely known with his paintings and drawings. The remains of the once important monastery are embedded in a park with old trees, including 180-year-old oak trees, which illustrate Friedrich's ideas and shape the romantic atmosphere of the complex. The main accent of the ruins is the imposing west facade of the former monastery church with the high pointed arched window opening.

In 1199, the monastery of Hilda (Eldena) was founded after Cistercian monks had to abandon their monastery in Dargun as a result of warlike conflicts. The new monastery was built east of the later city of Greifswald, at the mouth of the river Ryck into the Danish Wiek. In 1248 the "oppidum Gripheswald" was mentioned in a document for the first time among the possessions of the monastery, and in 1250 the town charter was granted to today's Greifswald. The monastery ruins are located in the district of Eldena, in the immediate vicinity of the fishing village of Wieck and the Greifswald Bodden.
In the Middle Ages Eldena was the most important monastery in the region, economic and spiritual center of the area and reached its heyday around 1400. From the early 13th century to the beginning of the 15th century it was structurally developed according to its importance. The monastery existed until the Reformation movement in the region in 1533 and subsequently fell into disrepair.
In 1634, the last Pomeranian Duke Bogislaw XIV granted the University of Greifswald the office of Eldena and with it the monastery grounds and associated lands. After plundering during the Thirty Years' War by imperial and Swedish troops, the remains of the medieval monastery complex fell more and more into disrepair. From the second half of the 17th century, they were even used as a quarry for fortifications and Greifswald University buildings.
The salvation of the complex is largely due to the intervention of the Prussian Crown Prince Frederick William (1795-1861, later King Frederick William IV), who was enthusiastic about Romantic ideas. In 1827 he found the ruin in a neglected state. Thereupon, from 1828-1832, initial clearing and restoration work was carried out and a park was laid out to open up the site. Oak trees were placed in place of the missing nave piers. The merging of the eternally recurring nature with the venerable structural evidence of an irretrievably past time carries a profound symbolism, which also captivates today's visitors at all times of the year and day.
Caspar David Friedrich, born in Greifswald in 1774, made the Eldena monastery ruins world famous. He is now considered the most important painter and draftsman of the German early Romantic period and used sketches of the monastery ruins as models in his paintings "Winter", "Monastery Ruin in the Giant Mountains" and "Abbey in the Eichwald", among others. Some of his works are exhibited in the Pomeranian State Museum. In the Caspar David Friedrich Center in downtown Greifswald, you can experience the life and work of the painter in an impressive way.
From the post-Reformation history of the site, the expansion of the Amtsgut and the founding of an agricultural academy in 1835, which existed until 1876, are worthy of note. The still existing monastery buildings were also used for agriculture.
Since 1937, the monastery ruins have been owned by the University and Hanseatic City of Greifswald. Nowadays, the monastery ruins and the park surrounding them are a popular recreational area, landmark of the city and backdrop for filming and various events. In summer, there are regular theater performances, the Eldena Monastery Market (since 2014), the Eldena Jazz Evenings jazz festival (since 1981) and other concerts and events. The monastery ruins are a stop on the Caspar-David-Friedrich-Bildweg and the European Route of Brick Gothic.
Parking & Directions: https://www.greifswald.de/de/freizeit-kultur/veranstaltungen/maerkte/klostermarkt/anfahrt-klosterruine-eldena/

Route of North German Romanticism: Eldena Monastery Ruin - Friedrich's Favorite Motif
Caspar David Friedrich was born on September 5, 1774 in Greifswald and is considered the most important painter and draftsman of the German early Romantic period. In his paintings "Winter" and "Abbey in the Eichwald" he used sketches of the Eldena monastery ruins as models, making them world famous. During his visits to his homeland, Caspar David Friedrich always rediscovered the architecture of the monastery ruins. He drew it from all perspectives. The high west facade was of particular interest to him, as it forms the focal point of many of his works. Through his paintings, the ruins became the focus of public attention. This is the starting and finishing point of the themed cycle route "Route of North German Romanticism".


Details at a glance

Klosterruine Eldena

Goethestraße 2a
17489 Greifswald

Telephone: +49 3834 85362101