Monasteries in 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

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

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

Schottenstift

The Schottenstift (Scottish Abbey) is a Roman Catholic monastery founded in Vienna in 1155 when Henry II of Austria brought Irish monks to Vienna. The monks did not come directly from Ireland, but came instead from Scots Monastery in Regensburg, Germany. Henry granted the new monastery extensive privileges. Construction of the first monastery started in 1160, and the structure was consecrated in 1200. The monastery was ou ...
Founded: 1160 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Capuchin Monastery

The Kapuzinerkloster are located on a mountain facing the old town if Salzburg: the Kapuzinerberg mountain, named after the abbey. There are two scenic routes leading to it: via the Imbergstiege off Steingasse and the romantic St. Johannes Church; this little church that is often missed by visitors is on one of Salzburg′s most picturesque spots and was recorded for the first time in the early 14th century. Prince Archb ...
Founded: 1594 | Location: Salzburg, Austria

Nonnberg Abbey

Nonnberg Abbey is a Benedictine monastery in Salzburg founded ca. 714 by Saint Rupert of Salzburg. It is the oldest women's religious house in the German-speaking world. Its first abbess was Saint Erentrudis of Salzburg, who was either a niece or a sister of Saint Rupert. The abbey was independent of the founding house from 987 and was re-built in about 1000. This building was largely destroyed in a fire of 1423. Reconst ...
Founded: ca. 714 AD | Location: Salzburg, 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

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

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

Zwettl Abbey

Zwettl Abbey was founded in 1137 by Hadmar I of Kuenring. The foundation was confirmed by Pope Innocent II (1140) and over the course of time by several other popes and emperors. Several members of the family of the founder were buried here. The monastery was constructed, as Cistercian houses often were, in a river valley, in this case in a bend of the River Kamp. Extensive buildings were erected, and the church, chapte ...
Founded: 1137 | Location: Zwettl, 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

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

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

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

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

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

Millstatt Abbey

Millstatt Abbey, established by Benedictine monks about 1070, is ranked among the most important Romanesque buildings in the state of Carinthia. The abbey prospered during its early years, enjoying special papal protection, again confirmed by Pope Alexander III in an 1177 deed; it was however never officially exempt and remained under the overlordship of the Archbishops of Salzburg. The premises included an adjacent nunne ...
Founded: 1070 | Location: Millstatt, Austria

Seitenstetten Abbey

Seitenstetten Abbey was founded in 1112 by Udalschalk, a relative of Bishop Ulrich of Passau, to which he gave all his estates as an endowment. In 1114 the new foundation was settled by monks from Göttweig Abbey. Bishop Ulrich dedicated the church in 1116 and granted the abbey the large parish of Aschbach. In 1142 it also received the large parish of Wolfsbach. Out of these two original parishes were formed the fourteen ...
Founded: 1112 | Location: Seitenstetten, 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

Wernberg Convent

Wernberg convent stands on a rocky outcrop overlooking a bend in the Drau. The building run by the Sisters of the Precious Blood is actually in part a Renaissance castle dating back to the early 13th century. Today it houses a nunnery, education centre and guesthouse with its own farm and a well-stocked shop selling its produce.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Wernberg, Austria

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba

The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.

According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while in 961 Al-Hakam II enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of such reforms was carried out by Almanzor in 987. It was connected to the Caliph"s palace by a raised walkway, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers – as well as Christian Kings who built their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.

In 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the centre of the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. Alfonso X oversaw the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel within the mosque. The kings who followed added further Christian features, such as King Henry II rebuilding the chapel in the 14th century. The minaret of the mosque was also converted to the bell tower of the cathedral. It was adorned with Santiago de Compostela"s captured cathedral bells. Following a windstorm in 1589, the former minaret was further reinforced by encasing it within a new structure.

The most significant alteration was the building of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the expansive structure. The insertion was constructed by permission of Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon. Artisans and architects continued to add to the existing structure until the late 18th century.

Architecture

The building"s floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large and flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.

In planning the mosque, the architects incorporated a number of Roman columns with choice capitals. Some of the columns were already in the Gothic structure; others were sent from various regions of Iberia as presents from the governors of provinces. Ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass were used in the decorations. Marvellous mosaics and azulejos were designed. Later, the immense temple embodied all the styles of Morisco architecture into one composition.

The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, granite and porphyry. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple that had occupied the site previously, as well as other Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. The double arches were an innovation, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch.