Altzella Monastery ParkThe heritage of the Cistercians
When the waves of Reformation swept over Saxony the German princes who had converted to the Lutheran faith drove the monks out of their monasteries. There remained ruined monastery grounds, in which only those interested in history could perceive the echo of the monks and their activities. Such was also the case in Altzella, after the Saxon sovereign, Prince Henry the Pious, had ordered the secularization of the Cistercian monastery there. The grounds where the monks had lived and worked since 1175 fell into ruin, the bricks of the monastery were removed to be used elsewhere, while valuable books from the library, numbering well over a thousand, were passed on to the University of Leipzig. However, since Altzella was the cemetery of the noble Wettin family, the royal court in Dresden never ceased to be interested in the site. Here, in 1787, Elector August III erected a mausoleum in early neoclassicistic style, while his garden architect Johann Friedrich Huebler surrounded the white burial place with a landscape park in the style of the Romantic period.
The manmade landscape, so natural in its appearance, with its old pointed arches, seemingly fixed gables and broken pillars quickly attracted famous names of the German art world of the time, including Caspar David Friedrich and Ludwig Richter, who found inspiration galore in Altzella. Anybody attracted to the soft splendor of the old monastery grounds is certain to find the same fascination that drew those Romantics before them.