St Maurice Abbey church in Ebersmunster, a baroque cathedral in the Ried

Right in the middle of Alsace, not far from Selestat, between Strasbourg and Colmar is Ebersmunster. Ebersmunster is a village of some 500 inhabitants lying in the Grand Ried. The Grand Ried is the swampy plain that spreads between the Rhine river and the Ill river. It is a flat, wet and fertile land with a lot of wild life. It is a land of beautiful vegetables and flowers.
Ebersmunster, a small village a priori without great interest, houses an architectural gem, its Baroque abbey church, one of the finests in France.

Baroque Abbey church of St Maurice in Ebersmunster, Alsace

Baroque Abbey church of St Maurice in Ebersmunster, Alsace
Baroque Abbey church of St Maurice in Ebersmunster, Alsace. It is one of the finests baroque churches in France. The main facade of the church in Ebersmunster is quite sober, with cream coloured painted walls between red stone. A big tower stands either side of the facade, the two of them being connected by a balustrade passageway with a statue of Saint-Maurice in the middle.

The abbey church Saint Maurice (in French: Abbatiale Saint-Maurice) is the only witness remaining from the old time of the medieval abbey. The church as it is still today was built in 1670 and completed in 1727 on the remains of a much older sanctuary burnt down during the Thirty Years war (1632). The abbey church Saint Maurice is the work of Peter Thumb, an Austrian architect from the Vorarlberg province (nowadays only a bit more than a 3 hours drive from Ebersmunster).

Interior of Abbey church of Ebersmunster
The interior of Abbey church of Ebersmunster is very finely decorated. The church is considered locally as the “cathedral of the Ried” and is for sure one of the most beautiful Baroque churches in France.

The understated design of the exterior gives little clue to the exuberant decoration inside the church. The interior is very finely decorated – among the particular highlights: an exceptionally ornate altar designed by Jean-Léonard Meyer (a local artist from Sélestat) in 1728; the beautifully painted ceiling in the choir; and the wall paintings that can be seen around the church.

Interior of Abbey church of Ebersmunster - the choir
On both sides of the choir are wooden stalls with magnificents statues of saints that line the walls above the stalls; in the background, see the exceptional ornate altar.

From the outside of the church you would guess nothing of the richness of the interior design and furnishing.

Some Alsatians and Germans were however involved in the design of the bright and colorful interior: The expressive Samson pulpit (see also St. George’s Church, Sélestat) is a work by Clemens Winterhalder and the mighty main altar (1728) one by Jean-Léonard Meyer from Sélestat. The other altars are works by Anton von Wihl, from Sélestat, and Anton Ketterer, from Colmar.

Abbey church of Ebersmunster: altars and choir
Abbey church of Ebersmunster: altars and choir

The nave decoration is largely the work of Tyrolean artists: the ceiling paintings (1730–1733), with depictions of the legends of Maurice and of Benedict are by Josef Mattes (nave) and Joseph Mages (chorus , transept, crossing); the choir and confessionals were also made by Tyrolians.

Abbey church of Ebersmunster: ceiling paintings
The ceiling paintings are the work of Tyrolean artists (1730–1733)

A beautiful statue of the Virgin and Child …

Abbey church of Ebersmunster: statue of the Virgin and Child
Abbey church of Ebersmunster: statue of the Virgin and Child

… and a marvellous pipe organ constructed by Silbermann

Pipe organ built by Silbermann
In the church there is also a pipe organ constructed 1730–1732 by Andreas Silbermann, which is one of the best preserved works of the famous organ builder. It was carefully restored in 1997–1999.

Ebersmunster church also has a well known 18th century baroque organ by Andreas Silbermann that has been used in various classical organ recordings and is also used in performances organised in the church.
Each year between May and July, a concert series, Les heures musicales d’Ebersmunster is held in the abbey church, the benefits going to its restoration.

In 2013, concerts will be in May, 5 – 12 – 19 – 26 as well as June 30 and July 7.
Entrance EUR 13, starts at 5 pm.

Abbey church of Ebersmunster: the cathedral of the Ried
Abbey church of Ebersmunster: the cathedral of the Ried


Guided tours with Daniel Ehret. Daniel Ehret is a guide approved by the
Ministries of Tourism and Culture and well known in Alsace for its tours and publications. Daniel Ehret organizes regular visits to the Ebersmunster Abbey church but also to Colmar, Eguisheim, Hunawihr, Kaysersberg, Colmar, Riquewihr and Sélestat.

Tourist Office of Sélestat

Holiday accommodation
Our holiday apartment the MOUNTAIN HIKER, luxury and charm for 2/3 people in La Vancelle, is only a 20 minutes drive from the Abbey church of Ebersmunster.
Our 14 holiday apartments at the Remparts Riquewihr, Only a 20 minutes drive from the Abbey church of Ebersmunster. From the small studio for 2 people to the large luxury apartment for 6.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Thanks for quick reply. And thanks for finding out about the restored status of the stop knobs.

  2. Bonjour,
    Thank you for the interest in the Silbermann organ of St Maurice Abbey church. I am afraid my technical skills are not high enough to be able to answer your question. I will try to get in touch with somebody there and let you know. Have a great day. Jean-Paul

  3. As I type this I’m listening to Diane Bish play Campra on the beautiful Silbermann. I read above of the 1997-1999 restoration. Ms. Bish explained and demonstrated the poorly-placed stop knobs – has that been updated or kept the same? Merci for any information.

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