In 1220, after the church was completed, it was decided to make it fancier. A portico was added called the Paradise. It must have served as a cloister because its 3 sides look like one.It is in complete harmony with the exterior. At this same period the nave and aisles were vaulted. Porticos of this sort and vaulting were being added to a few other Benedictine churches in Sicily and S. Italy at this time but where did they get this cloister-like idea? (It is unique; there is no evidence that the Emperor at the time, FrederickII (Stupor Mundi) was in contact with the monastery), But there it stands: graceful , double columned(4), with carved foliated capitals(5), enclosing a bare central court around the apse, recently graced with an Alhambra-like Lion Fountain(3) made by one of the Brothers(1956). The most interesting part of the Paradise is the outer Entry. It is round-arched, 5-banded, with columns and pilasters and carved capitals(2), some of which are figured (the left ones). At the corner are the "hair-pullers" (haarraufer) demons, followed by a demon inscribing a book of sinners, and then 2 dragons(1).Only a few capitals are figured in the rest of the church. There is no advanced carving because such masons were in short supply, working away fervently in more southern climes.
The shaping of the grounds makes it hard to examine the church from all angles and so the symmetry and gracefulness are not easy to appreciate.There are two taller towers at the East transept and two rounded towers at the West. (Two transept churches were not unusual in the Romanesque period). Between the East towers is a square based octagonal tower covering the crossing. Between the West towers is a similar taller square central tower with a projecting West end apse.Six towers in all (1). There is no west facade (since this is a two-ended church). From the west, where you approach over a parvis, the rhythm of the blind arcades, roofs, windows and varied colors of the tuff-stone and basalt(3) is soothing like a geometric stone waterfall (2)(the greatest Romanesque quality). The front entry, hidden in the portico, is simple(4). The only place you can find a view of all of the towers is down by the lake. (We did not try that).
Though some of the substructures of the Abbey buildings adjoining the church go back to the time of the foundation, very little of their original character has been preserved. The buildings were modified from the early 20th century.
Arcades on the three sides provide delightful glimpse both of the inner courtyard with the Lion Fountain. The origin of the Portico is mainly to countries South of the Alps so this is a unique addition to the monastery
Count Palatine’s monument is a freestanding tomb of the late 13th century. It is a stone sarcophagus with a carved wooden lid, the Count Palatine an idealized youth full figure clad in princely robes and seemingly still alive as he rests on the cover. The tomb contains the founder’s remains.
A beautiful Mosaic is right above the left altar, a throne of mercy is portrayed: a representation of the Trinity, Jesus is enthroned and the Holy Spirit hovering over the life size crucifix which Jesus is holding by its arms.
A dark stair leads from the Lady Chapel down to the crypt, the oldest part of the basilica. It was begun and partly finished under Count Palatine Henry. The high bases of the limestone columns under their clear block capitals recall the crypt of the Speyer cathedral.
Abbot Gilbert was partly responsible for the design of the interior. He raised the tower above the crossing and erected the west choir. One smaller altar each is on both the East and West side of the main altar.
The foundation stone to this church was laid by Count Palatine Henry. After the death of the Count, Countess Palatine Adelheid continued with the building. The church was consecrated in the year 1156 however the towers in the west were only completed in 1170 hence well after the church was opened.
no, it is not the Alhambra in Granada/Spain, when I put up the pic it just struck me though
the Benedictine Abbey is one of the oldest in the world, build in 1093 by the Count of the Region, Heinrich II and it took till 1152 before the first Benedictine Monks made it their Monastery.
the Lion's Fountain is on of my favorite place, from here you have a good view of the inner Walls and the fine Architecture and sculpters