The large, castle-like grounds of the monastery are the result of a long historical development and demonstrates one of the main concerns of a Benedictine Abbey: An independent religious community which produces everything needed for life and thus has all the important workshops and undertakings, if possible within the confines of the monastery.
Compared to the large and important monasteries of the Middle Ages in Bavaria Ettal is of relatively recent origin. It owes its foundation to the Duke of Bavaria, at the same time Roman Emperor of the German Nation, Kaiser Louis IVth. The date of the endowment and foundation of Ettal is the 28th of April 1330, and the gift of the emperor for his foundation was the marble statue of the Ettal Madonna on the high altar of the church.
The economic basis of the abbey consists of that which the monks themselves produce and earn as well as of a number of undertakings such as a brewery, the making of liqueur, hotel, and publishing house. Through these activities the large complex of buildings - all of which are used - has to be kept up - for the most part by the monks themselves.