Kloster Jerichow

Jerichow Monastery – Northern Germany’s oldest brick building

With a height of 59 meters, the mighty west towers of the collegiate church of St. Marien and Nicolai in Jerichow tower over the Elbe meadows. They bear witness to the monastery’s more than 875-year history and arouse admiration for the great building achievements of the Middle Ages. The Romanesque monastery complex, which has been preserved in large parts in its original style, is today one of the most visited stops on the Romanesque Road. The area of the monastery garden, which has been recreated in the style of the Middle Ages, invites guests to linger. In addition to the dyer’s garden and the vegetable and spice garden, visitors can also nibble in a field fruit garden.

East of the Elbe, in the former Slavic settlement area, cathedrals, monasteries and numerous village churches were built within a few decades in the course of large-scale Christian missionary activity in the 12th century. In 1144 King Konrad III confirms the foundation of the Premonstratensian Monastery of Jerichow from possessions of the Counts of Stade and places it under the legal control of the Bishopric of Havelberg. Canons from the monastery of Our Lady in Magdeburg establish their settlement in the center of the town near the present-day town church. However, due to the “tumult of the market hustle and bustle”, the location is abandoned again as early as 1148 and moved to the present site. In the course of the 12th and 13th centuries, the Romanesque monastery complex with basilica, enclosure, numerous farm buildings and surrounding wall was built. However, since there was a lack of natural stone as a building material for monastery construction in a wide area, the rich clay deposits were used to build one of the earliest and largest brick churches in northern Germany. Starting from Jerichow, brick architecture spreads throughout the stone-poor lowlands of northern Germany and reaches its peak with the Brick Gothic. Soon after its foundation, the monastery becomes embroiled in the power struggles between the archbishops of Magdeburg and the margraves of Brandenburg, both of whom lay claim to the area, parts of which today belong to the Jerichow Land. The monastery thus loses its importance, but in this way the Romanesque building fabric in the area of the church and enclosure remains untouched until modern times. In the course of the Lutheran Reformation, the monastery was dissolved in 1552.