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Germany: monastery of Campus Galli, building goes on with medieval techniques and tools

The foundations and the base block of the big stone altar that will stand out in the future holy place that is the urban monastic complex of Meßkirch, a town in the Baden-Württemberg forest, have been laid down. So far, so good, due to the resurgence of monastic spirituality in German countries. But the 25 hectares’ forest that surround the building started in 2012 is home to carpenters and smiths, woodworkers and masons, potters and weavers, all busy using IX-century tools: without concrete, steel beams or digital technology. “Campus Galli”, as the project that takes inspiration from the original drawings dating back to 820 AD for the monastery of St Gallen in the Isle of Bodensee Richenau is called, has not all been plain sailing, as it is regarded as a waste of money and human and local resources. But the designer, Bert Geurten, did not give up and, with the help of the Municipality, found the means to open the building site, which, partly due to the rise in the number of visitors (over 48 thousand in 2015), is expected to be able to support itself by 2018 with money from tickets and merchandising. “Right now, we have about 30 craftsmen working at this huge task”, states Hannes Napierala, the archaeologist who has been running this project as a veritable outdoor museum. “As far as we can, we try to stick to the working methods of 1,200 years ago. We are always respectful of science, which enables us to try to get lasting results from theoretical research”, says Napierala.

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