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Monastery Garden Neuzelle (Photo: TMB-Fotoarchiv / Heidi Walter)

Neuzelle is full of surprises: hardly anyone would expect to find a Baroque monastery in the Bohemian and South German tradition in eastern Brandenburg. Towards the end of the sixteenth century, through the restructuring of the order, Neuzelle forged a link with the monasteries of the Bohemian crown. The Baroque reconstruction of the churches and the entire monastic complex was shaped by the Counter-Reformation instigated by the Council of Trent in response to the Reformation in Central Europe. From the mid-seventeenth century to around 1800 Neuzelle developed into a “model monastery” of the Counter-Reformation.

After Niederlausitz had fallen to Prussia in 1815, in 1817 the monastery was secularised and became, as Stift Neuzelle, property of the Prussian state. It served as a forestry and land authority until 1955, when it was nationalised. Today, after extensive restoration work, the monastery has returned to its old splendour and is one of the few fully preserved monasteries in Germany and Europe.

Monastery Curch Neuzelle (Photo: TMB-Fotoarchiv / Heidi Walter)

Shop window of Catholicism in a Protestant environment

To this day Neuzelle Monastery offers an impressive view of its completely preserved complex and its surroundings. Its cloisters provide an insight into its turbulent history. The Baroque design of the monastery church and the cruciform church between 1650 and 1750 is considered “Brandenburg’s Baroque wonder”.

The Neuzelle Passion representations of the Holy Sepulchre held in the museum in the coach house are of great artistic and art historical significance. In the Reformation jubilee year of 2017 a multimedia presentation of the entire monastic complex along with other cultural projects will show the cultural and historical significance of the former monastery as the “shop window of Catholicism in a Protestant environment”.