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

Royal Palace of Aranjuez

Palacio Real de Aranjuez is a former Spanish royal residence. It was established around the time Philip II of Spain moved the capital from Toledo to Madrid. Aranjuez became one of four seasonal seats of government, occupied during the springtime (from about holy week). Thereafter, the court moved successively to Rascafría, El Escorial and wintered in Madrid. Aranjuez Cultural Landscape is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After the Christian conquest, Aranjuez was owned by the Order of Santiago and a palace was built for its Grand Masters where the Royal Palace stands today. When the Catholic Monarchs assumed the office of Grand Master of the Order of Santiago, Aranjuez became part of the Royal estate. This fertile land, located between the Tajo and Jarama Rivers, was converted into the Spanish monarchy's most lavish country retreat: during Spain's Golden Age, Aranjuez became a symbol for the perfection of nature by mortal hands, as El Escorial was for art.

Such excellence was based on strong Renaissance foundations, as Charles V envisaged this inherited estate as a large Italian-inspired villa, a desire continued by Philip II who appointed Juan Bautista de Toledo to design leafy avenues that ran through the gardens and farming land. A series of dams was constructed in the 16th century to control the course of the Tajo River and create a network of irrigation canals.

The splendour of the estate was only enhanced by the Bourbon monarchs, who would spend the whole spring, from Easter to July, at the Palace. Phillip V added new gardens and Ferdinand VI designed a new system of tree-lined streets and created a small village within the estate, which was further developed by Charles III and Charles IV. As Ferdinand VII and Isabella II continued to visit Aranjuez during the spring, the splendour of this site was maintained until 1870.

The Royal Palace, built by Phillip II on the site of the old palace of the Grand Masters of Santiago, was designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo –under whom construction began in 1564– and later Juan Herrera, who only managed to finish half the project. Although glimpses of the original layout still remain, the building itself is more characteristic of the classicism favoured by the Hapsburg monarchs, with alternating white stone and brick. The original design was continued by Phillip V in 1715 but not finished until 1752 under Ferdinand VI. The rectangular layout that Juan Bautista de Toledo had planned, and that took two centuries to complete, was only maintained for 20 years, since in 1775 Charles III added two wings onto the Palace.

Real Casa del Labrador

As the Prince of Asturias, Charles IV was a frequent visitor to the pier pavilions built by Ferdinand VI and grew up playing in the Prince’s Garden. When he became King, he decided to build a new country house at the far end of these gardens, known as the Casa del Labrador (the labourer's house) due to its modest exterior that was designed to heavily contrast the magnificent internal decor. It was built by chief architect Juan de Villanueva and his pupil Isidro González Velázquez, who designed some of the interior spaces. These rooms, developed in various stages until 1808, are the greatest example of the lavish interior decor favoured by this monarch in his palaces and country retreats. Highlights at this Site include the combination of different types of art and the luxurious textiles, in particular the silks from Lyon, as well as wealth of original works on the main floor, where Ferdinand VII added various paintings and landscapes by Brambilla.

King's Garden, the Island Garden, Parterre Garden and the Prince's Garden

Phillip II, a great lover of gardens, paid special attention to this feature of the Aranjuez Palace: during his reign, he maintained both the Island Garden, designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo, and the King's Garden, immediately adjacent to the Palace and whose current layout was designed by Philip IV. The majority of the fountains on this island were commissioned by Phillip IV, while the Bourbons added other features such as the Charles III benches.

Phillip V made two French-style additions to the existing gardens: the Parterre Garden in front of the palace and the extension at the far end of the Island Garden, known as the Little Island, where he installed the Tritons Fountain that was later moved to the Campo del Moro park by Isabella II.

The Prince's Garden owes its name and creation to the son and heir of Charles III who, in the 1770s, began to use Ferdinand VI's old pier for his own enjoyment. He also created a landscaped garden in the Anglo-French style that was in fashion at the time and which was directly influenced by Marie Antoinette's gardens at the Petit Trianon. Both Juan de Villanueva and Pablo Boutelou collaborated in the design of this garden.