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Thu Mar 22, 2012, 07:13 AM

Building a Monastery the Medieval Way

http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/0,1518,822375,00.html


Experts involved in the project are using the "Guédelon Castle," shown here, as an example. Builders in Burgundy have been constructing the new castle using 13th-century techniques since 1997. Every year, the site attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors.

What did a medieval stonemason do when heavy rainfall interrupted his work? Umbrellas are impractical at construction sites. Gore-Tex jackets weren't yet invented, nor were plastic rain jackets. "He donned a jacket made of felted loden cloth," says Bert Geurten, the man who plans to build an authentic monastery town the old-fashioned way.

Felted loden jackets will also be present on rainy days at Geurten's building site, which is located near Messkirch, in the southwestern German state of Baden-Württemberg, between the Danube River and Lake Constance. Beginning in 2013, a Carolingian monastery town will be built here using only the materials and techniques of the 9th century. From the mortar to the walls, the rain jackets to the menu, every aspect of the operation will be carried out as just as it was in the days of Charlemagne. "We want to work as authentically as possible," says Geurten.

The building contractor from the Rhineland region has long dreamt of carrying out his plan. When he was a teenager, the now 62-year-old was inspired by a model of the St. Gallen monastery plan in an exhibition in his home city of Aachen. The plan, dating from the beginning of the 9th century, shows the ideal monastery, as envisioned by Abbot Haito of Reichenau.

Haito dedicated his drawing to his colleague Abbot Gozbert of St. Gall, who presided over the monastery from 816 to 837. He meticulously recorded everything that he believed was necessary for a monastic city, from a chicken coop to a church for 2,000 worshipers. Altogether he envisaged 52 buildings -- but they were never built. That will change in spring 2013, though, when ox-pulled carts wil begin carrying the first stones to the building site in the forest near Messkirch. It won't be finished until about 2050, according to estimates.

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Reply Building a Monastery the Medieval Way (Original post)
xchrom Mar 2012 OP
UnrepentantLiberal Mar 2012 #1
xchrom Mar 2012 #2
surrealAmerican Mar 2012 #3
TheMadMonk Mar 2012 #5
dipsydoodle Mar 2012 #4

Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 08:07 AM

1. That's pretty cool.

 

Interesting project.

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Response to UnrepentantLiberal (Reply #1)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 08:22 AM

2. i thought so too -- giving up a lot of modern convenience.

pretty fascinating.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 09:13 AM

3. This will take hundreds of years.

I guess the real challenge will come when the people initially involved in the project are dead: will there be enough dedicated individuals to keep the project going for as long as it takes?

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Response to surrealAmerican (Reply #3)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 11:27 AM

5. 15 years to get that far. Another 15 years at at the same pace.

 

Last edited Thu Mar 22, 2012, 12:06 PM - Edit history (1)

I don't see any realistic reason why it can't succeed.

Whoops. I was envisioning just basic finishing of the building in the OP. Not a whole castle & town.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 11:07 AM

4. Great find

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