Station: [1] Welcome

M: Welcome to Jerichow Monastery.

The year is 1144. This area, not far from the River Elbe, is sparsely populated and barely developed. This is a frontier region, because the territory ruled by the German emperors only extends to the opposite riverbank. The people who live here are pagans and Christians, Slavs and Germans. They’re farmers and fisher folk. Tiny Jerichow is one of the fishing villages and has a Slavic fortress. Pronounced "yeree-choff", the name is also Slavic. It translates as “bold” or “defiant” castle.

At this point, King Conrad the Third attempted to bring this area under his control by adopting a targeted settlement policy. He launched what’s known as the “Wendish Crusade" to demonstrate his power, and the local Slavs, or Wends, submitted to German rule. It was during this period that Hartwig von Stade, the canon of Magdeburg, founded a collegiate church here in Jerichow.

F: Perhaps you’re wondering what features a collegiate church involves. There’s a good overall view from where you’re standing now. You can see what was built over the course of more than a century, starting in 1144. Most important is, of course, the church. After all, worship and prayer were central to the daily lives of the canons. Then they needed a place to sleep, somewhere to eat, and rooms where they could congregate. These can be found in the buildings immediately adjacent to the church. But people also worked and traded here. For those activities, the collegiate church required workshops and service buildings. And it needed an extensive kitchen garden to grow fruit and vegetables, medicinal plants and kitchen herbs. What’s unusual about Jerichow collegiate church – or Monastery – is that much of all that has survived to this day.

Foto: © Stiftung Kloster Jerichow