On an idyllic site in the middle of the Schönbuch forest lies the former Cistercian monastery of Bebenhausen. It was probably founded around 1183-84 by the Count Palatine Rudolph of Tübingen.
A “cenobium bebinhausen” was first mentioned in a document in the year 1187. When the monks of the Premonstratensian Order left the monastery, the Cistercians took their place in 1190..
The monastery flourished in the 13th to 15th centuries, becoming one of the richest in the state of Württemberg. The Reformation marked the end of this period of prosperity, and after 1807 this once so important religious institution stood empty and derelict. Parts of the complex were torn down; others were converted for use by the kings of Württemberg, Friedrich and Karl.
Later, the monastery was used as a church boarding school and as a palatial hunting lodge for the Württembergian kings. Wilhelm II and his wife Charlotte returned to live in Bebenhausen following his abdication. He died here in 1921; his wife in 1946.
Between 1947 and 1952, it served as the seat of the Württemberg-Hohenzollern state parliament and until 1953 as that of the Higher Regional Court. Various rooms on the site have been used since 1954 by the forest administration.
In the mid-1970s, the entire site was listed as a historic monument.
The monastery and palace are open to visitors all year round. The Sommerrefektorium – summer refectory – is particularly worth seeing. Here, the blend of High Gothic and neo-Gothic decorations make this a highly evocative setting. The royal quarters, too, have been preserved in their original state. Alongside the regular guided tours, there are a number of special tours focusing on the life of the monks and the pupils of the monastery school and also on the unique architectural features of the site.