One of southern Germany's largest Cistercian monasteries

Salem Monastery and Palace

The Imperial Hall; Photo: Ulrich Knapp
Majestic and magnificent

The Imperial Hall

The majestic Imperial Hall shows that 18th century Salem abbots aimed for the prestige and radiance of other ecclesiastical and secular princes: the prestigious ballroom is the show-piece of the Prelature.

Salem Monastery and Palace, Imperial Hall, statue; Photo: Ulrich Knapp

16 imperial statues protect the hall.

Emperors and popes from Salem's history

Abbot Stephan I. Jung commissioned the décor in 1708 and Franz Joseph Feuchtmayer created the exceedingly rich stucco decoration in the light, wide hall. 16 larger-than-life statues of emperors are a reference to the protection of the highest rulers. The series begins with Lothar III, who was emperor at the time the monastery was founded. King Konrad III of the House of Hohenstaufen elevated Salem to an imperial abbey in 1142. Above the windows are the busts of the Popes who granted the monastery special privileges.

Homage to Emperor Karl VI

Abbot Stephan also showed his respect to the emperors of his time. He had a portrait painted of Karl VI, who first granted him audience when he was crowned Emperor in Frankfurt in 1711: the painting, an early work by Constance painter Jakob Carl Stauder depicts the emperor on horseback – the same pose as depicted in the portrait of his predecessor Joseph I, which hangs directly opposite. This painting is a work by the artist's father, Franz Carl Stauder.

Salem Monastery and Palace, Imperial Hall, wall detail; Photo: Ulrich Knapp

Wall detail in the Imperial Hall.

Detailed series of images

Four groups of figures above the portals in the Imperial Hall provide a special series of images which differentiate it from the residences of earthly princes. They embody the futility of war, the earthly regiment that is supposed to guarantee peace and the church's authority. The ceiling frescoes depict biblical motifs: Daniel in the Lion's Den, the Miracle at Pentecost and Elijah on the Fire-cart.

Preservation of a unique room

The majority of the seven canvases, including the 4x7 meter Miracle at Pentecost in the centre of the ceiling, are the work of Franz Carl Stauder. It took him five years to complete his work: from 1708 to 1713. The ceiling fresco was one of the first works the province restored after acquiring the palace in 2009. The careful restoration of the Imperial Hall took a total of two years: the rich stucco, the colours and the gilded frames shimmer in their former brilliance once again.

Salem Monastery and Palace, Imperial Hall; Photo: Ulrich Knapp

It took two years to renovate the Imperial Hall.

Other highlights of Salem Monastery and Palace