Monasteries in Austria

Neuberg Abbey

Neuberg Abbey is one of the few extant set of monastic buildings in Austria to have retained its medieval character to any great extent. The abbey was founded in 1327 as a filial monastery of Stift Heiligenkreuz by the Habsburg Duke Otto the Merry, who died here in 1339. It was suppressed in 1786 by Emperor Joseph II. In 1850, the partly ruined premises were converted for use as a hunting lodge for Emperor Franz Joseph I ...
Founded: 1327 | Location: Neuberg an der Mürz, Austria

Mauerbach Charterhouse

Mauerbach Charterhouse is a former Carthusian monastery. Founded in 1314 by the Austrian duke Frederick the Fair and rebuilt in the 17th and 18th centuries, the Baroque monastic complex is one of the most important structures of its kind in Austria. The monastery was plundered and set on fire by Ottoman troops during the 1529 Siege of Vienna and suffered further serious structural damage by the 1590 Neulengbach earthquak ...
Founded: 1314 | Location: Mauerbach, Austria

Ossiach Abbey

In 878 the East Frankish king Carloman of Bavaria dedicated the Treffen estates around Lake Ossiach to the Benedictine monastery of Ötting. In the late 10th century the lands passed to the Bishops of Passau and later to Emperor Henry II, who conferred them to a certain Count Ozi, affiliated with the Styrian Otakar dynasty and father of Patriarch Poppo of Aquileia. A church probably already existed at Ossiach, when Count ...
Founded: 1024 | Location: Ossiach, Austria

Lienz Friary

The Carmelite friary in Lienz was founded in 1349 by the Countess Euphemia of Görz and her two sons. Although it burned down several times in the following centuries, it always received enough in donations to be able to rebuild. In about 1450 a theological college for the Carmelite Order was housed here. In the early 16th century the prior, Lucas Zach, introduced a reform to ensure that the Carmelite rule was better foll ...
Founded: 1349 | Location: Lienz, 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

St. Lambrecht's Abbey

St. Lambrecht"s Abbey was founded in 1076 by Count Markward of Eppenstein; it was dissolved from 1786 to 1805. In 1938, the building was seized by the National Socialists. From 1942 to 1945, it was used as an external storage facility of the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp. The monks returned in 1946. Locally the two churches within the monastic grounds are called the Grosskirche ('big church') and the ...
Founded: 1076 | Location: Sankt Lambrecht, Austria

Göss Abbey

Göss Abbey is a former Benedictine nunnery and former Cathedral in Leoben. The nunnery was founded in 1004 by Adula of Leoben, wife of Count Aribo I, and her son, the future Archbishop of Mainz, on the family"s ancestral lands. It was settled by canonesses from Nonnberg Abbey in Salzburg. The first abbess was Kunigunde, sister of Archbishop Aribo. Göss was made an Imperial abbey by Henry IV, Holy Roman Empe ...
Founded: 1004 | Location: Leoben, Austria

Vorau Priory

Vorau Priory was founded in 1163 by Margrave Ottokar III. The monastery quickly became an religious and cultural center of Eastern Styria, but it was badly damaged by fires in 1237 and 1384. Vorau was located on the border to Hungary and therefore repeatedly faced military threats. The monastery was fortified and armed in the 1450s to defend the local population. The monastery was rebuilt into the Baroque style in 17th ...
Founded: 1163 | Location: Vorau, Austria

Kremsmünster Abbey

Kremsmünster Abbey was founded in 777 by Tassilo III, Duke of Bavaria. According to the foundation legend, Tassilo founded the monastery on the site where his son, Gunther, had been attacked and killed by a wild boar during a hunting trip. The first colony of monks came from Lower Bavaria, under Fateric, the first abbot. The new foundation received generous endowments from the founder and also from Charlemagne and his su ...
Founded: 777 AD | Location: Kremsmünster, Austria

Herzogenburg Monastery

Herzogenburg is an Augustinian monastery founded in 1112 by Ulrich I, Bishop of Passau, at St. Georgen an der Traisen. In 1244 because of frequent flooding it was moved up-river towards Herzogenburg. From 1714 the buildings were refurbished in the Baroque style by Jakob Prandtauer, Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach and Josef Munggenast. The monastery was able to survive the dissolutions enforced by Emperor Joseph II in t ...
Founded: 1112 | Location: Herzogenburg, Austria

Pernegg Abbey

Pernegg Abbey was founded as a Premonstratensian nunnery in 1153. It was founded by Ekbert and Ulrich, who also founded the Geras Abbey about 10 kilometres from Pernegg. Pernegg became a community of canons in 1584. In 1700 it became an abbey but was dissolved in 1783 under the reforms of Emperor Joseph II. In the mid-19th century the premises were acquired by Geras Abbey. Since 1995 they have been used as a retreat and ...
Founded: 1153 | Location: Pernegg, Austria

Viktring Abbey

Viktring Abbey is a former Cistercian monastery established in 1142 by Cistercian monks from Villers-Bettnach Abbey in the Duchy of Lorraine. Its lands were probably a gift of Count Bernhard of Spanheim-Marburg (Maribor), brother of Duke Engelbert of Carinthia, and his wife Kunigunde, daughter of Margrave Ottokar II of Styria. As early as 13 May in the following year the first abbot, Eberhard, was consecrated. The abbey c ...
Founded: 1142 | Location: Klagenfurt, Austria

Lambach Abbey

A monastery was founded in Lambach in about 1040 by Count Arnold II of Lambach-Wels. His son, Bishop Adalbero of Würzburg, changed the monastery into a Benedictine abbey in 1056, which it has been since. During the 17th and 18th centuries a great deal of work in the Baroque style was carried out, much of it by the Carlone family. Lambach escaped the dissolution of the monasteries of Emperor Joseph II in the 1780s. Adolf ...
Founded: 1040 | Location: Lambach, Austria

Seckau Abbey

Seckau Abbey was endowed in 1140 by Augustinian canons. An already existing community in Sankt Marein bei Knittelfeld was moved to Seckau in 1142. At the request of Archbishop Konrad I of Salzburg, Pope Innocent II instituted the founding of the congregation and the transfer to Seckau on 12 March 1143. The abbey church, a Romanesque basilica, was built from 1143 to 1164. According to an old custom, the canons founded a d ...
Founded: 1143 | Location: Seckau, 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

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

Engelszell Abbey

Engelszell Abbey is the only Trappist monastery in Austria. The abbey was founded in 1293 by Bernhard of Prambach, Bishop of Passau, as a Cistercian monastery. It was settled in 1295 by monks from Wilhering Abbey, its mother house, and was of the filiation of Morimond Abbey. It suffered a considerable decline, both spiritual and financial, in the period of the Protestant Reformation, and for a time passed into private own ...
Founded: 1293 | Location: Engelszell, Austria

St. Georgenberg-Fiecht Abbey

St. Georgenberg-Fiecht Abbey is a Benedictine monastery situated since 1708 in Fiecht in the community of Vomp. A pilgrimage church still stands on the original site on the Georgenberg. Founded in 1138, it is the oldest extant monastery in the Tyrol. According to tradition, the site"s first use was as a hermitage in about the middle of the 10th century by Blessed Rathold of Aibling, of the ancient noble family of th ...
Founded: 1138 | Location: Vomp, Austria

Reichersberg Abbey

Reichersberg Abbey was founded in the 11th century, when nobleman Wernher von Reichersberg converted his possessions into a monastery. It has been owned by Augustinian Canons since then. The monastery flourished under the guidance of Gerhoh, the third Provost and an eminent theologian. While there, Gerhoh composed his commentary on the Psalms between 1144 and 1148, making much use of the earlier work of Gilbert of Poitie ...
Founded: 1084 | Location: Reichersberg, Austria

Schloss Stainz

Schloss Stainz is a former monastery of the Augustinian Canons in Stainz. Today the Baroque complex belongs to the Counts of Meran and hosts two museum collections from the Universal Museum Joanneum. Stainz Priory was founded by the Augustinian Canons in 1229 when Leutold I von Wildon, lord of the manor of Stainz, allowed a small church with a monastery attached to be established on the mountain where his castle stood. ...
Founded: 1229 | Location: Stainz, Austria

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.