In the course of time, even monasteries have to reorient themselves. SeeMagazin author Karin Lochner and photographer Peter Felbert visit Wessobrunn monastery in the Five Lakes Region, where Martina Gebhardt has established a natural cosmetics company.

  • Martina Gebhardt stands in the stucco hall of the monastery Wessobrunn
  • Close-up of dried blue flowers in white apothecary bowl
  • Interior view of an ornate staircase in the monastery Wessobrunn
  • Woman weighing red dried flowers on a mechanical scale
  • Red and yellow dried flowers in large white apothecary bowl
  • Martina Gebhardt stands in the pharmacy of the monastery Wessobrunn and looks at a jar with natural cosmetics

The old stove is still standing, and is used for the preparation of raw materials. The oven is also still used for drying herbs. And in the former dining room, where 80 sisters used to be fed, is the despatch room. From here they go out into the world: the Seven Herbs Mask, Rose Cream, Ginseng Tonic. In the 1,200-year-old monastery of Wessobrunn, natural cosmetics are now packaged, sold and, soon, produced.

Detail of a ceiling in Wessobrunn monastery, elaborately decorated with stucco

The Wessobrunn monastery stands in the Pfaffenwinkel, crouching modestly behind a hill. It is famous for the Wessobrunn Prayer, a poem of creation which is one of the oldest poetic testimonies of the old German language, and for the Wessobrunn School, which has produced renowned stucco artists such as Johann Baptist and Dominikus Zimmermann. Masterly stucco decorations still bear witness to the monastery's heyday in the 17th and 18th centuries as the most important stucco centre in Europe.

"At first glance, architecture does not relate to cosmetics. But I'm in charge of the skin, both in cosmetics and this house."

Martina Gebhardt

  • Exterior view of the Archabbey of Saint Ottilien
  • Monk of the Archabbey of Saint Ottilien stands in front of a showcase with stuffed mountain animals
  • Aerial view of the Bernried monastery with Starnberger See in the background
  • Two nuns stand at the reception of a monastery behind a glass pane

Five years ago, Abbess Hildegard Jansing and organic cosmetics pioneer Martina Gebhardt signed the contracts to sell the monastery. The price was not disclosed, but the building service charges alone, including the outbuildings, are €50,000-60,000 per year.

Read the full story about Martina Gebhardt and her extraordinary company headquarters in SeeMagazin Issue 2019, as well as exclusive insights into the Archabbey of St. Ottilien, Beuerberg Monastery and Bernried Monastery.

Cover of the SeeMagazin 2019 with a drone picture of the Starnberger See
Can you see the whole story? SeeMagazin 2019

We love to collect beautiful pictures and stories from the Five Lakes Land and present them in our SeeMagazin. Every year we meet many interesting personalities. "Change of Perspective" is the motto of the 2019 issue, and we explore the lakes from a different perspective: whether from the air, on a board or on land - with our picture series, stories, ideas and tips we would like to invite readers to discover the region in a new way.