Monasteries in Austria

Griffen Abbey

From about 1233 the Bamberg bishops had the Romanesque Griffen parish church enlarged and rebuilt as a Premonstratensian monastery. The first canons descended from Vessra Abbey in the Franconian County of Henneberg. The monastery complex was completed in 1272 and significantly enlarged by Baroque buildings in the 17th century. Griffen remained the only Premonstratensian abbey in the Inner Austrian lands until its abolitio ...
Founded: 1233 | Location: Griffen, Austria

St. Florian Monastery

St. Florian Monastery is the largest monastery in Upper Austria, and one the most impressive examples of Baroque architecture in Austria. The monastery is dedicated to Saint Florian, whose fourth century grave lies beneath the monastery. The monastery, named after Saint Florian, was founded in the Carolingian period. Since 1071 it has housed a community of Augustinian Canons, and is thus is one of the oldest operational ...
Founded: 1071 | Location: Sankt Florian, Austria

Rein Abbey

Rein Abbey is a Cistercian monastery in Rein near Gratwein, Styria. Also known as the 'Cradle of Styria', it is the oldest surviving Cistercian community in the world. The monastery was founded in 1129 by Margrave Leopold the Strong of Styria and settled by monks from Ebrach Abbey in Bavaria under the first abbot, Gerlacus. It was the 38th Cistercian monastery to be founded. The previous 37 are all since dissolved, leavin ...
Founded: 1129 | Location: Rein, Austria

Pupping Abbey

Pupping monastery was founded in 1477 by the Couns of Schaunberg. The church was consecrated in 1490 and remodelled in the Baroque style in 1621. However, the monastery was sold and church demolished in 1801 after the secularization.
Founded: 1303 | Location: Pupping, Austria

Schlägl Abbey

Schlägl Abbey is the gemstone of the Mühlviertel region. Here, at the foot of the Bohemian Forest, the members of the Premonstratensian Order have worked and lived for almost 900 years.The Gothic monastery church is furnished with three naves and is impressive due to a large staircase up to the main nave. The altars, pulpits and choir-stalls from the 17th and 18th centuries are impressive with their rich carving and inl ...
Founded: 1202 | Location: Schlägl, Austria

St Peter's Abbey

St Peter's Abbey is a Benedictine monastery and former cathedral in Salzburg. It is considered one of the oldest monasteries in the German-speaking area, and in fact the oldest with a continuous history. St Peter's Abbey was founded in 696 by Saint Rupert at the site of a Late Antique church stemming from the first Christianization in the area. Likewise the establishment of the monastery was meant to forward the missionar ...
Founded: 696 AD | Location: Salzburg, Austria

Melk Abbey

Melk Abbey is a Benedictine abbey on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Danube river, adjoining the Wachau valley. The abbey contains the tomb of Saint Coloman of Stockerau and the remains of several members of the House of Babenberg, Austria"s first ruling dynasty. The abbey was founded in 1089 when Leopold II, Margrave of Austria gave one of his castles to Benedictine monks from Lambach Abbey. A monastic school was f ...
Founded: 1089 | Location: Melk, Austria

Geras Abbey

Geras Abbey is a Premonstratensian monastery founded in 1153 as a daughter house of Seelau Abbey by Ekbert and Ulrich of Pernegg. It was and settled by canons from Seelau. Geras Abbey was able to survive the reforms of the Emperor Joseph II and the consequent monastery closures of 1783, and remains in operation to this day. The abbey church is a Romanesque basilica which was reworked in the Baroque style in the 18th cent ...
Founded: 1153 | Location: Geras, Austria

Stams Abbey

One of Tirol’s true architectural gems is the splendid Cistercian Abbey of Stams, founded in 1273 by Count Meinhard II of Gorizia-Tyrol. During the 16th-century Protestant Reformation and German Peasants' War the monastic community decayed. In the course of the 1552 rebellion against Emperor Charles V, the premises were plundered by the troops of Elector Maurice of Saxony; even the grave of Maurice' brother Severinus w ...
Founded: 1273 | Location: Stams, Austria

Hall in Tirol Abbey

In the 15th and 16th century, Hall in Tirol was one of the most important towns in the Habsburg Empire. This period saw the construction of many of the churches, monasteries and convents that still shape the appearance of the town. Today Hall has the biggest intact old town in the western part of Austria. 1567 saw the founding of Hall Convent and the neighbouring Jesuit monastery. Before then the Augustinian monastery wa ...
Founded: 1567 | Location: Hall in Tirol, Austria

Admont Abbey

The oldest remaining monastery in Styria, Benedictine Admont Abbey contains the largest monastic library in the world as well as a long-established scientific collection. It is known for its Baroque architecture, art, and manuscripts. The abbey"s location on the borders of the mountainous Gesäuse National Park is of unusual scenic beauty. Dedicated to Saint Blaise, Admont Abbey was founded in 1074 by Archbishop ...
Founded: 1074 | Location: Admont, Austria

Garsten Abbey

Garsten Abbey is a former Benedictine monastery in Upper Austria. Since 1851, the former monastery buildings have accommodated a prison. The abbey was founded in 1080-82 by Ottokar II of Styria as a community of secular canons and as a dynastic burial place for his family. Together with his fortress, the Styraburg (Schloss Lemberg), it served as a focal point of Ottokar as ruler of the Traungau, and was endowed with signi ...
Founded: 1080 | Location: Garsten, Austria

Wilten Abbey

Wilten Abbey Basilica is the most beautiful Rococo church in Austria and enjoys a rich history. It’s one of two large churches in Wilten, alongside Premonstratensian Abbey, and is also home to the famous Wilten Boys’ Choir. According to legend, this has been a place of worship for many years: Roman Legionnaires are believed to have worshipped a unique Madonna on this site hundreds of years ago, when it was still known ...
Founded: 1751 | Location: Innsbruck, Austria

Göttweig Abbey

Göttweig Abbey was founded as a monastery of canons regular by Blessed Altmann, Bishop of Passau. The high altar of the church was dedicated in 1072, but the monastery itself not until 1083: the foundation charter, dated 9 September 1083, is still preserved in the abbey archives. By 1094 the discipline of the community had become so lax that Bishop Ulrich of Passau, with the permission of Pope Urban II, introduced t ...
Founded: 1083 | Location: Krems an der Donau, Austria

Altenburg Abbey

Altenburg Abbey was originally founded in 1144 by Countess Hildeburg of Poigen-Rebgau. The monastery was destroyed and reconstructed as a result of numerous attacks. The first was in 1251 by Hermann V von Baden, followed by several by the Cumans between 1304 and 1327 and during the Hussite Wars from 1427 to 1430. It was attacked by Bohemia, Moravia and Hungary in 1448, and by the Turks in 1552. In 1327, some restoration w ...
Founded: 1144 | Location: Altenburg, Austria

Gaming Charterhouse

Gaming Charterhouse (Kartause Gaming) is a former Carthusian monastery founded in 1330 by Albert II, Duke of Austria, who intended it as a dynastic burial place. He himself was buried there after his death in 1358, as was his wife Joanna of Pfirt (d. 1351) and daughter-in-law Elisabeth of Bohemia (d. 1373). The first community, from Mauerbach Charterhouse in Vienna, comprised a double complement, under a prior, of 24 monk ...
Founded: 1330 | Location: Gaming, Austria

Klosterneuburg Abbey

Klosterneuburg Monastery was founded in 1114 by Saint Leopold III of Babenberg, the patron saint of Austria, and his second wife Agnes of Germany. In 1136, the abbey church was consecrated after 22 years of construction. The form of that original basilica has survived for nine centuries, despite many subsequent modifications and reconstructions. The abbey church, dedicated the Nativity of Mary, was later remodeled in the ...
Founded: 1114 | Location: Klosterneuburg, Austria

Mondsee Abbey

In 748 Mondsee Abbey was founded by Odilo, Duke of Bavaria. The abbey tradition was that the first monks came from Monte Cassino in Italy. In 788, after the fall of Duke Tassilo III, Mondsee became an Imperial abbey and over the centuries acquired extensive property. Around 800 the Codex Millenarius, an illustrated Latin book of the Gospels was written at the abbey. In 831 King Louis the Pious gave the monastery to Regens ...
Founded: 748 AD | Location: Mondsee, Austria

Heiligenkreuz Abbey

Heiligenkreuz Abbey is the oldest continuously occupied Cistercian monastery in the world. It was founded in 1133 by Margrave St. Leopold III of Austria, at the request of his son Otto, soon to be abbot of the Cistercian monastery of Morimond in Burgundy and afterwards Bishop of Freising. Its first twelve monks together with their abbot, Gottschalk, came from Morimond at the request of Leopold III. They called their abbe ...
Founded: 1133 | Location: Heiligenkreuz, Austria

Franciscan Abbey

The Franciscan monastery in Graz was founded by the Franciscan order, who still own it, and is first mentioned in 1239. In the church, a high but narrow 14th-century chancel contrasts with the comparatively low and wide nave. The chancel was gutted by a bomb in World War II, and subsequently rebuilt with a new contemporary interior. The stained glass windows bathe the church in light, whilst the chancel is dominated by a ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Graz, Austria

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Königstein Fortress

Königstein Fortress is located on the left bank of the River Elbe. It is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe. The 9.5 hectare rock plateau rises 240 metres above the Elbe and has over 50 buildings, some over 400 years old, that bear witness to the military and civilian life in the fortress. The rampart run of the fortress is 1,800 metres long with walls up to 42 metres high and steep sandstone faces. In the centre of the site is a 152.5 metre deep well, which is the deepest in Saxony and second deepest well in Europe.

The fortress, which for centuries was used as a state prison, is still intact and is now one of Saxony's foremost tourist attractions, with 700,000 visitors per year.

By far the oldest written record of a castle on the Königstein is found in a deed by King Wenceslas I of Bohemia dating to the year 1233. It is probable that there had been a stone castle on the Königstein as early as the 12th century. The oldest surviving structure today is the castle chapel built at the turn of the 13th century. In the years 1563 to 1569 the 152.5 metre deep well was bored into the rock within the castle - until that point the garrison of the Königstein had to obtain water from cisterns and by collecting rainwater.

Between 1589 and 1591/97 Prince-Elector Christian I of Saxony and his successor had the castle developed into the strongest fortification in Saxony. The hill was now surrounded with high walls. Buildings were erected, including the Gatehouse (Torhaus), the Streichwehr, the Old Barracks (Alte Kaserne), the Christiansburg (Friedrichsburg) and the Old Armoury (Altes Zeughaus). The second construction period followed from 1619 to 1681, during which the John George Bastion was built. The third construction period is seen as the time from 1694 to 1756, which included the expansion of the Old Barracks. From 1722 to 1725, at the behest of August the Strong, coopers under Böttger built the enormous Königstein Wine Barrel, the greatest wine barrel in the world, in the cellar of the Magdalenenburg which had a capacity of 249,838 litres. It cost 8,230 thalers, 18 groschen and 9 pfennigs. The butt, which was once completely filled with country wine from the Meißen vineyards, had to be removed again in 1818 due to its poor condition. Because of Böttger, Königstein Fortress is also the site where European porcelain started.

Even after the expansion during those periods of time there continued to be modifications and additions on the extensive plateau. The Treasury (Schatzhaus) was built from 1854 to 1855. After the fortress had been incorporated in 1871 into the fortification system of the new German Empire, battery ramparts were constructed from 1870 to 1895 with eight firing points, that were to have provided all-round defence for the fortress in case of an attack that, in the event, never came. This was at this time that the last major building work was done on the fortress.

Because Königstein Fortress was regarded as unconquerable, the Saxon monarchs retreated to it from Wittenberg and later Dresden during times of crisis and also deposited the state treasure and many works of art from the famous Zwinger here; it was also used as a country retreat due to its lovely surroundings.

The fortress played an important role in the History of Saxony, albeit less as a result of military action. The Saxon Dukes and Prince-Electors used the fortress primarily as a secure refuge during times of war, as a hunting lodge and maison de plaisance, but also as a dreaded state prison. Its actual military significance was rather marginal.

Since 1955 the fortress has been an open-air, military history museum of high touristic value.