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07.07.2020

Ystad Abbey

Ystad Abbey, sometimes also just Graifriars Abbey, a medieval former monastery in Ystad, Sweden. Together with Wadstena Abbey, it is one of the best preserved medieval monasteries in Sweden. Today it houses the Museum of Cultural History of Ystad. 

According to a 14th century inscription, the monastery was founded on a donation from Knight Holmger and his wife Katarina in 1267 and was inaugurated by Bishop of Reval. From the beginning, it belonged to the Franciscan order, which was popularly called the Grey Monastery (hence the name of the monastery), and functioned as a monastery for monks. During the Middle Ages, several documented donations were made to the monastery.

In 1532, against the backdrop of the ongoing Reformation in Denmark, the Danish King Frederick I ordered the Franciscans to leave the monastery. However, they were not allowed to leave the monastery in peace, as the citizens of Istad took matters into their own hands and on 24 March 1532 the monks were forcibly evicted. The building was later converted into a almshouse. Little is known about the fate of the building at this time, but once, probably in the early 1600s, the western and northern wings of the building were demolished, quite possibly due to lack of funding. The brick was probably sold as building material and used in the building of a nearby manor or castle.

In 1658 Denmark handed over Eastad and the monastery to the Swedish authorities under the Roskilde Treaty. In 1777, the hospital was closed and the premises were transferred to the state distillery "Aquavit", but after the state abolished the monopoly on alcohol in 1786 it was used as a granary instead. At the beginning of the 19th century the factory building fell into disrepair. In 1877 the building was bought by the city authorities, and the plans to restore and demolish the building were ventilated. However, only in 1909 did the restoration work begin.

The monastery complex consists of three buildings connected with each other: the parish church of St. Peter (former church of the monastery), the former gatehouse and the preserved wing, originally formed on one side of the quadrangle. The buildings are almost exclusively made of red bricks, which makes this structure one of the brightest examples of Gothic bricks in Sweden. The buildings are surrounded by a rose garden laid out in 2002 and an herb garden laid out in 1998.

St. Peter's Church

The former monastery church is a narrow rectangular church with whitewashed Gothic inguinal vaults and discreet decoration, both inside and outside. It is typical of Franciscan churches, an outward sign of their promise of poverty. There's one nave adjoining the south aisle. The windows are high and narrow, gothic. To the east of the nave is a bell tower that reaches above the rest of the church. Externally, the western facade is decorated with blank arches.

Storage area 

The two-storey gatehouse dates from around the end of the 14th century to the middle of the 15th century, a period when the monastery was greatly expanded. Originally it connected the church with the west wing, now destroyed, which probably housed rooms for guests.

Monastery

The only surviving wing of the monastery itself is a rectangular building with a cloister overlooking a former quadrangle. The building has a half-timbered annex facing north-east and richly decorated funnel-shaped pediments. The windows are usually pointed Gothic-style windows with no decorative finish.

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