M 1: The canons hurry through the cloister and into the church to pray. Wherever they happen to be in the monastery, the cloister is within easy reach. That’s because the chapter house, the refectory and the work rooms are all located along the vaulted passage surrounding the inner courtyard. Following common practice in medieval monasteries, the canons had the cloister built on the south side of the church. Another typical feature is the square layout around an inner courtyard.
But the cloister is much more than just a connecting passageway – it’s the centre of convent life. The way it’s enclosed on all sides symbolises an existence that focuses on spirituality. It’s where people can spend time in contemplation, and where rituals such as the washing of feet are performed before entering the church.
F 2: Even while the monastery still existed, one side of the cloister was demolished, so the windows of the church could be enlarged. After the dissolution, the purpose of the adjoining rooms changed. They were no longer used by canons discussing spiritual and economic issues affecting the foundation. Instead, the rooms were given over to the brewing of beer and the distilling of schnapps. Then there was the tenant leasing the demesne, who had quarters on the west side, above the cloister.
Foto: © Stiftung Kloster Jerichow