The village and abbey at St Peter (Sankt Peter in German) was one of the revelations of our trip. Hidden under just one star in the Michelin green guide it represents a real gem, a beautiful and well conserved testimony of the religious and spiritual life of the past millennium in this area of Germany.

approaching St Peter

You actually can feel the surprise waiting for you when approaching the village, as the silhouette of the two onion-shaped towers of the principal church of the abbey is visible at several kilometers whatever direction you come towards the village.

Berthold II the founder of St Peter

The parking is at about 5 minutes walk from the entry of the abbey. In front of the gate a small and beautiful plaza with a few restaurants and souvenir shops has in center the statue of Berthold II executed in 1902 by Julius Seitz. Berthold II, duke of Swabia extended his control over the Black Forest aby 1090, and then started to build new settlements in the area, among which the Benedictine Monastery of St Peter which was to become the burial place of the family, as well as the village around it. He placed in 1095 the monastery under the protection of the Holy See, which ensured the continuity and support of the monastic and spiritual life for more than seven centuries, despite wars, plagues and other events that impacted the area and the whole Europe.

the two towers church at St Peter

Two of the devastating wars of the 17th century destroyed to a large extend the complex of buildings of place, so the reconstruction was badly needed when Ulrich Bugli became abbot in 1719. Under his guidance a new church in Baroque style was built on the existing structure, so that externally some Romanesque appearance is being kept.

The Napoleonic era cut short the monastic life here, as the abbey was secularized in 1806. Since then the building complex functioned as a hospital during war time, and then was taken back by the church, which used it for various destinations during the last two centuries. A theological seminar functions here until this day, the church and a rich library are active, and various other spiritual and artistic activities are organized here. We had actually to make our visit under some hurry conditions, as a concert was supposed to begin in the church later in the day and the church was being closed to prepare for the concert.

interior of the church at St Peter

Entering the church the visitor is stricken by the elegance and beauty of the single-aisle structure. It is one of the most beautiful Baroque churches that I have seen lately. The elegant columns which divide between the side chapels, the sparkling white of the walls enhanced by the indirect light (no windows are apparent when you face the principal altar), the dynamic beauty of the well conserved paintings, all make of the visiting of the building a fabulous spiritual and artistic experience.

ceiling of the church - St Peter vanquishises the sorcerer Simon Magus

The painting of the ceiling belongs to Franz Joseph Spiegler, a well known artist of the Baroque religious style, and represents St Peter vanquishing the ‘evil magician’ Simon Magus, actually the founder of a Gnostic sect that was competing with Christianity in its first century of existence.

altar panel in the St Peter church

I also admired the altar paintings, both the central altar as well as the side ones. All are perfectly kept and maintained.

statue of Berthold II inside the church

Statues on the pillars represent the members of the ducal house of Zahringen who are buried here. Here is another representation of Berthold II.

fountain in the churchyard at St Peter

We had little time to visit anything else but the church. As I understand from the beautiful brochure of the place, tours of the church, monastery, and library are organized some of the days, but only in German. We could admire in the courtyard a baroque fountain which seemed to be contemporary with the 18th century works in the church …

statues group out of the St Peter church

… as well as a modern art works which show that the place continues the tradition of being not only a religious place but also a cultural center for the area.

As the day advanced we went back to our car, preparing to head to our next objective – a cuckoo clocks museum!