Last week we decided to visit the Scheyern abbey and brewery in Bavaria (Germany). The major reason was not only the beer but also we have just figured out that our first king István (Stephen) got married in the chapel of Scheyern to Gisela, the daughter of Henry the Wrangler, Duke of Bavaria. This marriage was historical because it established the first family link between a Hungarian ruler and a Western European ruling house, because Gisela was closely related to the so called Ottonian dynasty (Wittelsbach) of the Holy Roman Emperors. According to popular tradition preserved in the Scheyern Abbey in Bavaria, the ceremony took place at the castle of Scheyern and was celebrated by Bishop Adalbert of Prague. Gisela was accompanied to her new home by Bavarian knights, many of whom received land grants from her husband and settled in Hungary. The arrival of these heavy-armed warriors then strengthened Stephen’s military position.
So however the monastry was a bit far away from Münich it was “well worth a mass”. We left around 10 am and after half an hour drive we landed at the Scheyern monastery. If you are a great biker you can approach the abbey both from Petershausen or from Pfaffenhofen train station as well. Either way, flat fields soon give way to rolling hills, hops fields and forests. The Scheyern abbey is not only famous for two historical memorabilias, but as you will see also for its fantastic beer. And at the same time you can discover the region which keeps tally on as it was the original seat of power of the royal family of Bavaria. The Wittlesbachs, -or the Dukes of Scheyern as they were then called, -made their home in the castle that stood here. Although their castle has already gone, the Benedictine abbey is still there dates from 1119 and the Wittelsbachs buried their dead here until 1253. Otto von Wittelsbach, the first of his house to rule Munich, is buried here among other rulers. Amazingly, Otto started a dynasty in Munich that would last from his reign in the 1100s all the way up to the waning days of World War I.
Nowadays pilgrims come here mostly to see the “Scheyern Cross”, a piece of the True Cross officially found by Empress Helena in 326 in Jerusalem. Interestingly enough, the relic was stolen by the Count of Dachau in the second half of the 12th century which is how it ended up in Scheyern at all. It is now on display in the Abbey’s impressive basilica, which was first consecrated in 1215 but has beautiful art-deco ceiling frescoes from the 1920s. Once inside, through the not-so-obvious doors on the right, you can enter the King’s Chapel and St John’s Church. The King’s Chapel as I have already mentioned above is named for King Stephan of Hungary who married Princess Gisela of Bavaria here in 996. The courtyard in front of the church, with its flower gardens and walking paths, also includes a small gift shop.
The brewery here began with the founding of the abbey and claims to be the third-oldest-brewery in Germany. They brew a Helles (lager), Dunkles (dark beer), Weißbier (wheat beer), Doppelbock (double bock), Pils (pilsner), and a “Hopfazupfabier”. This last is usually ordered non-verbally by simply pointing at the bottle in order to avoid saying “Hopfazupfabier”. My husband and an Italian friend of us tried them all except the Pils and they were, in their opinion, excellent. We had a lunch there as well as the restaurant serves tasty traditional but upscale Bavarian food, although not traditional self-serve, but the beer garden is shady and comfortable. A half-liter of hand-crafted fresh lager will cost you EUR 3.50 and many of the meals are around EUR 10-to 15. Although a little out of the way, Scheyern Abbey is well worth the trip and a wonderful place to spend a summer afternoon.