Station: [10] Heating System

M 1: Imagine it’s winter. Outside, it’s bitterly cold. Even here in the cloister, it’s barely any warmer. Despite the thick brick walls, the building provides hardly any protection from the cold. A young man seizes a glowing piece of kindling with clammy fingers. He lights some small twigs beneath a pile of logs. The dry wood quickly ignites. Soon, the air heated by the fire rises up into the narrow system of masonry pipes created here by the master mason. That allows the heat to spread evenly beneath the floor of the room above. That room is called the warming room, or calefactory, from the Latin calefactorium. It served as an infirmary and a place to warm up on especially cold winter days, but also as a scriptorium, a writing room.

F 2: The skills required to construct this kind of heating system date back to antiquity. The ancient Greeks developed this technology early on, and the Romans perfected it in their thermal baths. A thousand years later, the builders who introduced brick-making in Jerichow came from Italy. Among the know-how they brought with them to the Elbe region was an understanding of heating systems. So Jerichow Monastery, with its underfloor heating, was a beacon of civilisation and modernity here, in the desolate borderlands along the river.

Foto: © Stiftung Kloster Jerichow