Basic Layout Cistercian Monastery

In reaction to the development of non-basic elements in Cluniac Benedictine monasteries, the Cistercians originally adopted a very simple and strick lay-out for their monasteries. No unnecessary elements were allowed. Special attention was given to allowing the basic Benedictine combination in every day life of prayer and working (Ora at labora). At the same time much more attention than normal in those days was paid to personal hygiene, with daily washing of  hands and head and weekly washing of the feet and ample supply of fresh streaming water. For the latter convenience regulation of a local stream, prior to and during building of the monastery was standard procedure, allowing the water to flow under the building through arched basements. Below the standard lay-out of a Cistercian convent is illustrated.

Not shown here is the orientation of the whole with the north to the left. Also is missing the artificial branch of the brook at the tophand, upstream corner, which led the flowing water under the brother's wing (11, 16y to a well in the cloister gaden (9, not indicated here) and the kitchen area (21), to join the brook again in the southwestern corner of the terrain, in the bottom left corner of the plan. Note that the toilets of the brothers at te first floor dormitory (16) is aptly situated right over the main stream of the brook. A full list is given on the source site.

For a virtual visit of a classic Cistercian monastery go here.

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