First mentioned in 788 as “Raitinhaselach”, the Cistercians founded their first monastery in Altbayern (Old Bavaria) here in 1146. Raitenhaslach lies at a bend in the Salzach just five kilometres from Burghausen, nestled in the wild and romantic riverscape.
The original three-aisled Romanesque pillar basilica, consecrated in 1186, was fitted with a sumptuous interior between 1743 and 1746 and became a true jewel of Bavarian Baroque. Particularly worth seeing are the altars, the frescoes and the tombstones of the Wittelsbach family, who were once Kings of Bavaria.
In the prelate’s building, the monastery complex boasts two more hidden treasures, which have only been opened to the public recently after remaining untouched for over 200 years. One is the “Pope’s Room”, where legend has it that Pope Pius IV spent the night in 1782, and which is virtually “frozen” the way it was in the 1760s. The other is the “Stone Hall” - festive Baroque par excellence, now used for concerts and events once again.
The name “Ratinhaselach” was first mentioned in a Salzburg nomenclature of goods in around 788. In the period 1143-1146, the mother monastery in Salem am Bodensee founded the first Cistercian abbey in Altbayern (Old Bavaria) in Raitenhaslach. It remained standing until the period of secularisation in Bavaria in 1803.
The abbey complex now consists of the “old abbey” with the church and water tower dating back to the 16th century and the “new abbey” with Baroque architecture from 1752. During the Baroque period, Raitenhaslach resembled a colossal building site under Abbot Emanuel II Mayr, who was a very ambitious builder. The prelate’s building was completed, and the festival room and entire commercial wing were rebuilt. After a violent landslide on 5 August 1766, the abbey’s interior (cloister area) was completely rebuilt. The final construction work as to the famous library wing, which was completed in 1785. This and almost half the other Baroquestyle buildings were torn down again in 1803.
8-9 September 1186 marked the consecration of the first church on the grounds of the Raitenhaslach Cistercian abbey. It was a gigantic building for its time, boasting a three-aisled Romanesque pillar basilica with an interior length of 60 m and a vaulted high nave.
The church was reconstructed as a Baroque pilaster church in 1698 to mark the 600th anniversary of the order. The church was fitted with a sumptuous Baroque interior between 1743 and 1746 under Abbot Robert Pendtner in celebration of the abbey’s 600th anniversary.
The ceiling frescos by Johann Zick depict the life story of St. Bernhard of Clairvaux of the Order of Cistercians. In 1982, the five-year complete restoration of the abbey began, and it is now more beautiful than ever in its new splendour.
Raitenhaslach lies at a bend in the Salzach river, nestled in an unspoiled landscape. The abbey has belonged to the town of Burghausen since 2004. The grounds have since been redesigned to remove the offending brewery buildings and a trail of open spaces has been created to house temporary art exhibitions. A new stage has been erected in the inner courtyard intended for musical performances and plays.
Several TV series have been filmed in Raitenhaslach.
The academic centre of Munich Technical University, which has created a perfect meeting, research and scientific space in the carefully renovated rooms of the prelate’s building, builds a bridge between the past, present and future.
The old abbey also boasts a splendid ambiance for highcalibre cultural events.