st. michael’s monastery
St. Michael’s Monastery, today surviving only in ruins, sits at the top of the Heiligenberg, and can be reached by the Philosophen Weg. (You can also drive up to near the top of the hill, and walk the rest of the way to the monastery.) The first church was constructed on this location in 870 by Abbot Thiotroch von Lorsch. In 1023, Abbot Reginbald, who later became Bishop of Speyer, built St. Michael’s Monastery, and it is these remains which are still visible today. After the death of Abbott Friedrich in 1070, the monastery became a place of pilgrimage. In 1503, the last three monks living in the monastery were killed in their beds when part of the steeple collapsed. After that, the monastery became abandoned and was forgotten.
In 1589, the senate of the university decided to tear the monastery down and sell the stones, but an engraving from Matthäus Merian from 1645 shows the monastery still standing, indicating that the stones were never sold. It wasn’t until the 1860’s that anyone called attention to stone walls surrounding the top of the hill nearby the monastery. Upon their initial examination, they were believed to be from either the Roman settlement or the Middle Ages and thought to be part of the monastery. Upon closer excavation, however, they are now thought to be much older than that, and therefore unrelated to St. Michael’s.