The World's Oldest Monastery Brewery
Located near the city of Kelheim, Weltenburg Abbey is a Benedictine monastery by river Danube and, first and foremost, famous for its brewery. It was founded in 1050 AD and is thus the oldest still existing monastery brewery in the world. On weekends, guided tours are offered at the brewery.
Beer Garden in the Courtyard
The courtyard of the brewery is particularly popular because of its beer garden. Anyone who appreciates Bavarian brewery tradition will immediately feel at home here. Don't miss out on the famous “Weltenburger Kloster Barock Dunkel” that has already won the World Beer Award as the world's best dark beer (dark lager or dark draught).
But you shouldn't come here only for the fantastic beer. Have a look inside and around the abbey, one of the churches in Bavaria with ceiling frescos painted by the famous Asam brothers.
Donaudurchbruch (Danube gorge)
Weltenburg Abbey is situated idyllically above the Donaudurchbruch. Enjoy your summer days, and stick your feet into the cool wet of the river along the pebble beach of the Danube. It is recommended to come to Kelheim by ship as one will be smoothly led through the Donaudurchbruch while listening to interesting information about the special characteristics of this particular stretch of Bavarian soil.
Weltenburg Abbey was founded by the Irish-Scottish monks Eustachius and Agilus around 617 AD and is thus the oldest monastery in the whole of Bavaria. Allegedly, the abbey was consecrated to St. George by St. Rupert in 700 AD.
Continuation, Fleeing Monks and Resettlement
While the founding monks were leading the monastery strictly following the rules of St. Columbanus, the abbey was later put under the Benedictine order in the 8th century.
In the 10th century, Hungarians invaded the region and, as a consequence, all monks were forced to leave the abbey. In 932 AD, then, Weltenburg Abbey was inhabited once again, as a proprietary monastery of the Regensburg Diocese.
Looting and Extending the Monastery Complex
In the 14th and 15th century, the abbey was looted on several occasions during wars. The 18th century saw new buildings added to the monastery complex, such as the Frauenberg church and a new one dedicated to St. George again.
The Monastery's Closure is a New Beginning for the Abbey
On 21st March 1803, the monastery was closed down due to secularisation movements, and in 1842 King Ludwig I of Bavaria had the monastery reorganised as the priory of Metten monastery. Prince regent Ludwig, who later became Ludwig III, proclaimed the monastery an abbey.
How to get there
It is highly recommendable to travel to the abbey from Kehlheim by boat. The way there, against the stream, takes up to 40 minutes, whereas getting back will take only half the time. The first ship departs Kelheim at 9.30am and the last one at 6.30pm (weekends, April – October) or 6.10pm (Monday to Friday, April – October). A return ticket costs 9 € per adult. Dogs and bicycles are allowed on board. The pier can be found at Bahnhofstraße 1, 93309 Kelheim.
Coming from Regensburg, take the B16 until you get to the KEH38 in Saal and exit the B16 again at Riedenburg/ Kelheim. Following the KEH38 and the St2233 leads you to the Bahnhofstraße. Fee-based parking facilities are provided directly at the pier, but you may also park your car free of charge at the Volksfestplatz (square), which is only 400m (437yd) away from the pier.
The monastery cannot be accessed directly by motorised vehicles. You can find car parks at the Danube pier, which is only a few minutes walking distance away from the monastery.
From the direction of Nuremberg
Use the A3 in the direction of Passau/ Regensburg and take Exit 95/ Beratzhausen. Continue on the St2041 towards Beratzhausen, where you follow the R11 until Hemau. Leave the roundabout driving towards Kelheim/ Painten on the St2233. Carry on until you reach the next roundabout. Once there, take the second exit leading into the Weltenburgstraße. Roughly after 6km (3.7mi), you will be able to see the car park at the Danube pier signposted.
From the direction of Munich
Take the A9 in the direction to Stuttgart/ Nuremberg. Taking Exit 65/ Dreieck Holledau, you change onto the A93 leading towards Regensburg/ Hof. Leave the motorway at Exit 50/ Siegenburg and follow the B299 in the direction of Neustadt an der Donau. Continue on the road until you get to the B16 towards Nuremberg/ Ingolstadt, which you leave again at the exit Mühlhausen/ Neustadt an der Donau. Keep following the Landshuter Straße through Neustadt until you get to the Herzog-Ludwig-Straße. This is where you turn right into the Bad Gögginger Straße and automatically get to the St2233. The car park is signposted from here.
From the direction of Passau
Take the A3 in the direction of Regensburg and leave at the motorway intersection Kreuz Regensburg at Exit 99. Continue on the A93 towards Ingolstadt/ Munich and then take Exit 45/ Regensburg-Süd. Get on the B16 leading to Kelheim and after approximately 16km (10mi) you get on the St2233 taking you to Saal an der Donau/ Kelheim. Once in Kelheim, you enter a roundabout, which you need to leave at the third exit to keep on the St2233. This way you will soon reach the car park at the pier along the Danube.