From abbey to popular museum

Sweden's oldest preserved abbey

Gråbrödraklostret has been a Franciscan monastery, a poorhouse, a distillery, a granary, a candidate for demolition, museum and popular tourist attraction – few other buildings in Ystad have enjoyed such a colourful history. Today the monastery is considered to be the best preserved in Sweden together with the monastery in Vadstena.


The abbey dates from 1267 when the nave of the church was built. As time passed new buildings were added around a courtyard until, in the 15th century, it was considered complete. Dedicated to St Francis of Assisi the monks were dressed in grey, hence the name the Grey Friars monastery.


During the Reformation in the 1530s, the monks were evicted from Ystad and the north and west wings were demolished, only the foundations remain. The buildings were immediately appropriated by the town and used as an asylum for the sick and the poor.
Klostret från öster


The hospital was moved in 1777 to make room for a state distillery! By the end of the century the buildings were in such a poor state of repair that they could only be used as a grain and rubbish store.


In 1875 the buildings were bought by the municipality and in 1901 a demoli-tion order was granted – the residents protested and with the support of the local ancient monument society and dignitaries it was saved.


Already in 1909 the first restoration work was begun. The work was continued in 1967 and the east wing was restored in the 1990s.



A museum of repute

The monastery museum is designed to reflect its spiritual heritage by exhibiting items that help us to think about what it means to be human. As well as permanent exhibitions the museum also arranges temporary exhibitions. Exhibits include local textiles, items made by well known local silversmiths and the monastery silver.

The monastery church, St Pe-tri, is one of the few churches that are owned by a Swedish municipality. It is used for both temporary exhibitions and spiritual and secular purposes. The church has a 14th century Fröjel baptismal font as well as 80 gravestones dating from the 14th to 18th centuries.

Från klostrets samlingar

Rosary, orchard, cabbage patch peony garden and herb garden

A medicinal herb garden and a cabbage patch have been laid out as it is believed they were at the time of the Grey Friar monks. The benches in the orchard are an ideal spot to enjoy your picnic, there are apple, pear, almond, walnut, fig and elderberry trees.

There is also a rose garden designed by Maria Björklund with a pergola surrounding a fountain designed by Camilla Bergman. It is a  popular place for christenings. The rosary, which boasts both old and new varieties of rose, is tended by Sub Rosa, a garden society; the society also arranges various events and garden tours. A peony garden has recently been recreated in the spirit of Emma Lundberg.


Kålgården vid klostret

“The power and The Glory” – a unique medieval exhibition of national treasures

350 years ago, in 1658, Denmark signed The Treaty of Roskilde and Skåne became a part of Sweden.

Today Ystad has determined to look back at the many reminders of those bygone times and relive Danish medieval history. The oldest map of Ystad dates from 1650; the town at that time differed little from Ystad in the Middle Ages. In fact we can still use the map to find our way around the old town, an unusual and unique advantage that helps highlight the importance of Ystad as a Danish trading centre.

Some of the highlights will take place in July, like the annual Monk Market and the medie-val festival Medeltida Ystad, which will be arranged at the old Bjersjöholm fortress – events include knights in armour and jousting tournaments and; in combination with this, visitors to the monastery will be able to enjoy family event comprising art works, music and other attractions peculiar to Ystad.


The monastery Church

Publicerad 2011-11-09, Uppdaterad 2020-11-04