Westwork and Civitas Corvey

Date of Submission: 20/09/1999
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Ministerium für Arbeit, Soziales und Stadtentwicklung, Kultur und Sport
State, Province or Region:

North Rhine-Westphalia, Hoxter 

Coordinates: N51 46 0.8 E9 24 0.7
Ref.: 1366
Word File

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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party


The site, originated in the 9th century, is one of the most important abbeys of the Occident. In 814/815, Louis the Pious, acting on a request from his father, Charlemangne, founded a monastery at Hethis near Corvey. Benedictine monks from the Normandy village of Corbie/Somme moved in, and the abbey was called Corbeia nova. In 822, a better place was found in the Weser river valley. Land close to the original site was acquired and donated by Louis the Pious. It was there that Corvy, during the 9th and 10th centuries, evolved as one of northern Europe's major centres of culture. In the late 10th century, Widukind of Corvey wrote his ‘Res gestae Saxonicae' there. Today's Baroque assembly still hints at its Carolingian origins. Its central feature is the basilica church whose construction was begun in 822 and which was consecrated in 844. The lower levels of the west end date back to those early days. The 9th century wall painting depicts, among other things, Odysseus' fight with Scylla from Homer's Odyssey, an illustration unique in medieval arts. Under Wibald, the abbot of Stavelot, who was also abbot of Corvey between 1146 and 1158, the west end was extended to its present form. During the Thirty Year War, the Carolingian monastery received considerable damage and was subsequently rebuilt in Baroque style, with an extravagantly designed Emperor's Room, under abbot, Florenz von dem Velde (1696-1714). Today, Corvey, made a principality in1792 and secularised in 1803, is owned by the Duke of Ratibor and Prince of Corvey.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The Carolingian west end, built between 873 and 885 and preserved in its essential characteristics, is among the finest examples of medieval architecture. The antique iconography in the medieval murals and the stucco relief containing the original sketch lines are unique in the world.

Comparison with other similar properties

Corvey was also a political centre of the Carolingian empire and always well known for an excellent library. In a direct and recognizable way Corvey is combined with ideas and works of art and literature and a unique document of occidental culture and intellectual history. The history of Corvey reflects in many ways the history of the Frankish-German empire over an entire millennium. In this regard, Corvey is unlike any other World Heritage sites.