Minorite monastery

The Franciscan order founded a monastery in Oberwesel as early as 1242. The mendicants began to build their own monastery church around 1280. This monastery church was one of the earliest gothic-style churches to be built in Germany. In accordance with the requirements of a Dominican Order, work began in 1280 on an asymmetrical, double-nave, gothic-style hall church with a protruding choir and a shorter side aisle. As it was a church for a mendicant Order, it had no transept; nor, as a sign of humility, did it boast a church tower, having only a small turret for a bell.

Following a reform of the Franciscan Order, the convent in Oberwesel joined the Minorites, the Friars Minor, in 1517. Ever since, the former Franciscan monastery in Oberwesel has been known as the Minorite monastery.

During the Reformation, many monks left the monastery. As a result, Prince-Bishop Johann VI. von der Leyen dissolved it, using the buildings to house the electoral winery (trust administration) for the civil service in Oberwesel.

In the course of the counter-reformation, the Minorites returned to Oberwesel in 1621. The “Schulgässchen” -”Little school street”, now the entrance to the museum and arts centre - reminds us today of the Latin school they founded.

Napoleon secularised the monastery in 1802 and expropriated all church possessions, auctioning them for 4000 francs. The church and monastery buildings fell victim to a huge town fire in 1836. Afterwards, many of those who had become homeless from the fire moved into the ruins.