On Erkenbert's Tracks
The ruins of the former collegiate church of St. Mary-Magdalena with its tower borders along the west side of the Zwölf-Apostel-Kirche (Twelve-Apostles-Church). The Augustinian Canon Monastery, with a hospital, was founded in 1119 by Erkenbert (Eckenbert), a ministry official of the bishop of Worms Burchard (Buggo) II; the latter consecrated the still unfinished church in 1125; the foundation was confirmed by the pope in 1134.
A fire in April 1171 damaged the church, a note of consecration from 1181 confirms the completion of the reconstruction works.
The building of the still existing choir screen was begun in about 1200 and provided with vaults in the 14th century when the long house also received big lancet windows.
The convent was dissolved by the elector Frederick III in 1562 and the collegiate building and the church were made available to Calvinist new settlers from the Netherlands. This was the basic unit of the present town.
Burned down in the Palatine war of succession by the occupying forces, only the choir loft of the collegiate church was restored in a makeshift manner, which however was dismantled in 1820 and had to give way to the new building of the big Protestant parish church. The choir’s flank tower was incorporated into the new church. The remains of the convent served as a quarry or were used for building the town hall in the middle of the 18th century.
The remaining surrounding walls of the nave were used from 1912-1914 to build the Erkenbert museum of urban history and a council hall, according to the plans of the architect Heinrich Henes from Stuttgart. Burnt out again in the Second World war, most of the remains of the fittings and annexes were removed in 1960.
Today the ruin is used for cultural events such as an open-air cinema as well as for musical and theatrical performances amongst other things. The founder’s name lives on in the popular designation “Erkenbert Ruins”.