loader image

St Micha­els­klos­ter Heidelberg

Dive into the history of Heidelberg

St Michael’s Monas­tery in Heidelberg is a beau­tiful and his­to­ric monas­tery ruin that is defi­ni­tely worth a visit. Just like the Thing­stätte, the monas­tery of St Michael is loca­ted on the Hei­li­gen­berg, the second lar­gest moun­tain in Heidelberg. The monas­tery was ori­gi­nally foun­ded in the 14th cen­tury by the Order of St Michael and has a rich history that spans centuries.

The once magni­fi­cent monas­tery once formed the top of the Hei­li­gen­berg and its two towers offe­red a unique view over the Rhine plain.

In addi­tion to its idyl­lic atmo­sphere, the Micha­els­klos­ter also looks back on a rich history. The monas­tery was a center of lear­ning and scho­lar­ship in the Middle Ages and was home to many important figu­res, inclu­ding the phi­lo­so­pher and theo­lo­gian Wil­liam of Ockham. The monas­tery also played an important role in the history of the city of Heidelberg, and was a center of power and influence for centuries.

Today, St. Michael’s Monas­tery is open to the public and offers visi­tors the oppor­tu­nity to explore the foun­da­tion walls of the place of wor­ship and learn more about its history.

In addi­tion to its archi­tec­tu­ral and his­to­ri­cal signi­fi­cance, St. Michael’s Monas­tery also offers a peaceful and tran­quil atmo­sphere for visi­tors to enjoy. The beau­tiful gar­dens and peaceful sur­roun­dings of the monas­tery pro­vide the per­fect set­ting for a nice walk or a quiet picnic.

History of the monastery

The place of wor­ship was alre­ady used by Chris­ti­ans in the 7th cen­tury, as evi­den­ced by Mero­vin­g­ian buri­als. At that time, Abbot Thio­troch, from the Bene­dic­tine monas­tery of Lor­scher, took over the buil­ding and expan­ded the com­plex. Alt­hough a monastic buil­ding is men­tio­ned in the Lorsch Codex of 870, this cannot be con­firmed archaeo­lo­gi­cally and may repre­sent a retro­s­pec­tive of the later foun­ding of the monastery.

Only in 1023 did Abbot Regin­bald rebuild the foun­da­tion remains of the cult site. Abbot Fre­de­rick of Hirsau was buried in the abbey in 1070 and his tomb­stone can still be found in the crypt today. When the monas­tery was rebuilt, a water pipe was built from the spring at the White Stone to near the monas­tery, repla­cing the decaying Bit­ters­brun­nen as the main source of water at Heiligenberg.

In addi­tion, there are archaeo­lo­gi­cal traces of fire from the time when the Elec­to­ral Pala­ti­nate and the Elec­to­rate of Mainz par­ti­ci­pa­ted in the recon­s­truc­tion. In 1503, the col­lapse of a bell tower of St. Michael’s Basi­lica was con­firmed, and three monks are said to have died in their bedrooms.

The complex around the ruins of St. Michael's Monastery in Heidelberg: A cult site in Baden Württemberg

Source: Areu­land, unmo­di­fied, Crea­tive Com­mons license: Areu­land – Sha­ring under the same con­di­ti­ons 4.0 international


Pre­de­ces­sor buil­dings of the Micha­els­klos­ter alre­ady exis­ted in Celtic times. The area of the basi­lica of St. Michael forms the hig­hest point in the double ring wall system of the Hei­li­gen­berg. Under the ruins of the cathe­dral still a Roman place of wor­ship is pro­va­ble, which must have been at that time very well-known in the region.


The Micha­els­klos­ter is con­side­red one of the most important his­to­ri­cal land­marks of Heidelberg, and it’s one of the most important monas­te­ries of the Rhine valley and a popu­lar desti­na­tion for tou­rists and history buffs. At that time, the two towers ador­ned the top of the Hei­li­gen­berg. The top of one tower was pro­ba­bly visi­ble from afar. Today, only parts of those towers are left but they are still acces­si­ble. One of the two towers is still over 10 meters high and offers a great view.

Even though the foun­da­tion walls and floor plan are still cle­arly visi­ble and the monas­tery com­plex of Saint Michael can still be well ima­gi­ned, it is a pity that there has never been a recon­s­truc­tion of the remains. For cen­tu­ries, the monas­tery, which is also called Michael’s Basi­lica, ador­ned the Hei­li­gen­berg and was known in Ger­many for the unique loca­tion on the Hei­li­gen­berg and the impres­sive monas­tery complex.


The monas­tery of St. Michael is only acces­si­ble by car or on foot. By car, the trip takes about 30 minu­tes from the city center, as you have to make a small detour via Zie­gel­hau­sen. On foot, the walk takes about 40-60 minu­tes depen­ding on your pace.

The advan­tage of visi­ting on foot is that you walk along a nice hiking trail in the woods and can visit some other sights along the way. For exam­ple, you can walk a short distance along the famous Philosopher’s Path and take a look at the other side of the Neckar, mar­ve­ling at the König­stuhl and the maje­s­tic Heidelberg Castle. In addi­tion, you can visit the nearby Thing­stätte or the Heidenloch.


So it is recom­men­ded to do the hike if you want to get more of Heidelberg’s nature and keep yours­elf fit.


Over­all, the Micha­els­klos­ter, or the ruins of it, is a must-see for anyone visi­ting Heidelberg. The rich history and beau­tiful sur­roun­dings make it a true gem of the city and well known throug­hout Baden-Württemberg.


Whe­ther you are an archi­tec­ture lover, inte­res­ted in history or just loo­king for a quiet place to explore, remains of the monas­tery and the view from the tower of the beau­tiful Rhine plain will surely impress you. Even though a maje­s­tic monas­tery was once enthro­ned on the site at Hei­li­gen­berg and now it is only a ruin, it is impres­sive to ima­gine the dimen­si­ons that the Micha­els­klos­ter must have had back then.