Monasteries in Austria

Wilhering Abbey

Wilhering Abbey, re-constructed in the 18th century, are known for their spectacular Rococo decoration. The monastery was founded by Ulrich and Kolo of Wilhering, who donated their family"s old castle for the purpose in 1146. The abbey almost came to an end during the Protestant Reformation, when Abbot Erasmus Mayer absconded with its funds to Nuremberg, where he married. By 1585, there were no monks left at the abbe ...
Founded: 1146 | Location: Wilhering, Austria

Saint George's Abbey

St. George"s Abbey was founded between 1002 and 1008 by the Countess Wichburg, the wife of Count Ottwin von Sonnenburg of Pustertal. Wichbirg was the sister of the Archbishop Hartwig. The founder"s daughter Hildpurg, a nun in the Nonnberg Benedictine abbey in Salzburg, was ordained as the first abbess, and brought the first nuns with her. Count Ottwin and Countess Wichburg were entombed in the crypt of the conve ...
Founded: 1002-1008 | Location: Sankt Georgen am Längsee, Austria

Lilienfeld Abbey

Lilienfeld Abbey was founded in 1202 by Leopold VI, Duke of Austria and Styria, as a daughter house of Heiligenkreuz Abbey. Successive abbots acted as councillors to the rulers of Austria, and the abbey became wealthy as a result of this valuable connection. Abbot Matthew Kollweis (1650-1695) turned the monastery into a fortress during the Turkish advance against Vienna in 1683, installing a garrison and giving shelter t ...
Founded: 1202 | Location: Lilienfeld, Austria

Michaelbeuern Abbey

A monastic cell existed in Dorfbeuern as early as 736 or thereabouts, referred to in the Aachen Monastery Register in 817. After the Hungarian wars, reconstruction began in 977 with an endowment from Emperor Otto II. More times of crisis came upon the abbey with the fire of 1346, mismanagement of the prebendal income and the effects of the Reformation. From the 17th century however Michaelbeuern began a long period of p ...
Founded: 8th century | Location: Dorfbeuern, Austria

Schlierbach Abbey

Schlierbach Abbey is a Cistercian monastery founded in 1355, and rebuilt in the last quarter of the 17th century. The original foundation was a convent for nuns, abandoned around 1556 during the Protestant Reformation. The abbey was reoccupied as a monastery in 1620, and rebuilt in magnificent baroque style between 1672 and 1712. The monastery again went into decline with the upheavals before, during and after the Napoleo ...
Founded: 1355 | Location: Schlierbach, Austria

Wettingen-Mehrerau Abbey

Wettingen-Mehrerau Abbey is a Cistercian territorial abbey and cathedral on the outskirts of Bregenz. The first monastery at Mehrerau was founded by Saint Columbanus who, after he was driven from Luxeuil, settled here about 611 and built a monastery after the model of Luxeuil. A monastery of nuns was soon established nearby. Little information survives on the history of either foundation up to 1079, when the monastery wa ...
Founded: 611 AD | Location: Bregenz, 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

Aggsbach Charterhouse

Aggsbach Charterhouse is a former Carthusian monastery in Aggsbach Dorf. The monastery was founded in 1380 by Heidenreich von Maissau. It was dissolved in 1782 in the reforms of Emperor Joseph II. The premises were mostly converted for use as a castle, except for a few portions which were incorporated into the parish priest"s farm. The monks" cells and the cloister were demolished. The Carthusian church, with th ...
Founded: 1380 | Location: Aggsbach Dorf, Austria

Spital am Pyhrn Abbey

Spital am Pyhrn Abbey was founded around 1060. During the 3rd Crusade, Bishop Otto II of Bamberg founded a hospital in 1190. After this the abbey started to flourish until the it was destroyed by fire in 1502. The abbey was rebuilt in Baroque style. Today, the Austrian rock art museum is located in the restored Baroque rooms of the monastery.
Founded: 1060 | Location: Spital am Pyhrn, Austria

St. Paul's Abbey

Saint Paul"s Abbey in Lavanttal is a Benedictine monastery established in 1091 by the Sponheim count Engelbert I, Margrave of Istria. It was built on the site of a former castle and a church consecrated by Archbishop Hartwig of Salzburg in 991. Backed by subsidies from Hirsau Abbey as well as by Engelbert"s brother Archbishop Hartwig of Magdeburg, the monastery quickly prospered and with its own scriptorium and ...
Founded: 1091 | Location: Sankt Paul im Lavanttal, Austria

Säusenstein Abbey

The foundation charter of Säusenstein Abbey is dated 19 September 1336, when the founder, the nobleman Eberhard of Wallsee, granted the site and a substantial endowment to the Cistercian monks of Wilhering Abbey. The abbey suffered from the Turkish invasions of the 16th century, particularly in connection with the Siege of Vienna in 1526. Although forethought on the part of abbots saved many of the abbey"s valuabl ...
Founded: 1336 | Location: Ybbs an der Donau, Austria

Gleink Abbey

Gleink Abbey was founded in the early 12th century by the local nobleman, Arnhalm I of Glunich, who gave his castle for conversion to a monastery. The premises, dedicated to Saint Andrew, were ready for occupation in the 1120s. Gleink was settled from Garsten Abbey. The abbey suffered fire damage in 1220, 1275 and 1313, but narrowly escaped destruction at the hands of the invading Hungarians in the late 15th century and t ...
Founded: c. 1120 | Location: Steyr, Austria

Kleinmariazell Abbey

Kleinmariazell cloister lies on an old pilgrim"s trail, the Via Sacra from Vienna to Mariazell. The church and cloister were founded in 1134 or 1136 by Heinrich and Rapoto of Schwarzburg-Nöstach. The cloister was dissolved in 1782 during the course of the Josphine Reforms and falls into decay. The cloister and its lands were put up for auction. Many owners followed, and the cloister was turned into a palace. The for ...
Founded: 1134 | Location: Klein-Mariazell, Austria

Arnoldstein Abbey Ruins

Arnoldstein is a former Benedictine abbey. A fortress at the site was first mentioned about 1085/90, then held by ministeriales of the Bamberg prince-bishops who had received extended Carinthian estates from the hands of Emperor Henry II on the occasion of his coronation in 1014. To strengthen his episcopal authority, Bishop Otto of Bamberg had the castle slighted and established a Benedictine convent at the site in 1106. ...
Founded: c. 1080 | Location: Arnoldstein, 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

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

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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Wawel Castle

Wawel Hill – a Jurassic limestone rock, a dominant feature in the landscape of Kraków, have provided a safe haven for people who have settled here since the Paleolithic Age. It is supposed that the Slav people started living on Wawel hill as early as the 7th century. Early medieval legends tell stories about a dreadful dragon that lived in a cave on Wawel Hill, about his slayer Krakus, and about the latter’s daughter Wanda, who drowned herself in the Vistula rather than marry a German knight. Towards the end of the first millennium A.D Wawel began to play the role of the centre of political power.In the 9th century it became the principal fortified castrum of the Vislane tribe. The first historical ruler of Poland, Miesco I (c.965-992) of the Piast dynasty as well as his successors: Boleslas the Brave (992-1025) and Miesco II (1025-1034) chose Wawel Hill as one of their residences.

At that time Wawel became one of the main Polish centres of Christianity. The first early Romanesque and Romanesque sacral buildings were raised here, including a stone cathedral that was erected after the bishopric of Kraków was established in the year 1000.

During the reign of Casimir the Restorer (1034-1058) Wawel became a significant political and administrative centre for the Polish State. Casimir’s son, Boleslas the Bold (1058-1079) began the construction of a second Romanesque cathedral, which was finished by Boleslas the Wrymouth (1102-1138). In his last will of 1138, this prince divided Poland into districts, and provided that Kraków was to be the residence of the senior prince. In 1291 the city of Kraków along with Wawel Hill temporarily fell under the Czech rule, and Wenceslas II from the Premysl dynasty was crowned King of Poland in Wawel cathedral.

In 1306 the Duke of Kuyavia Ladislas the Short (1306-1333) entered Wawel and was crowned King of Poland in the Cathedral in 1320. It was the first historically recorded coronation of a Polish ruler on Wawel Hill. Around that time, at the initiative of Ladislas the Short, the construction of the third Gothic cathedral began, the castle was expanded and the old wooden and earthen fortifications were replaced by brick ones. The tomb of Ladislas the Short in the cathedral started a royal necropolis of Polish kings in Krakow.The last descendant of the Piast dynasty, Casimir the Great (1333-1370) brought Wawel to a state of unprecedented splendour. In 1364 the expanded gothic castle witnessed the marriage of Casimir’s granddaughter Elizabeth to Charles IV accompanied by a famous convention of kings and princes, subsequently entertained by a rich burgher Wierzynek. The accession to the throne in 1385 of Jadwiga from the Hungarian dynasty of Andegavens, and her marriage to a Lithuanian prince Ladislas Jagiello (1386-1434) started another era of prosperity for Wawel. The royal court employed local and western European artists and also Rus painters. During the reign of Casimir Jagiellon (1447-1492) the silhouette of the hill was enriched by three high brick towers: the Thieves’ Tower, the Sandomierz Tower and the Senatorial Tower. The first humanists in Poland and tutors to the king’s sons: historian Jan Długosz and an Italian by the name Filippo Buonacorsi (also known as Callimachus) worked there at that time.

The Italian Renaissance arrived at Wawel in the early 16th century. King Alexander (1501-1506) and his brother Sigismund I the Old (1506-1548) commissioned the construction of a new palace in place of the Gothic residence, with an impressive large courtyard with arcaded galleries which was completed about 1540. Sigismund’s patronage also left an indelible impression in the cathedral, where a family chapel was erected, known today as Sigismund’s Chapel - the work of Bartolomeo of Berrecci Florence, and through various foundations, one of which was that of a large bell, called the Sigismund to commemorate the king. Close artistic and cultural relations with Italy were strengthened in 1518 by the king’s marriage to Bona Sforza. Alongside Italian artists, German architects, wood workers, painters and metal smiths worked for the king. The last descendant of the Jagiellonian dynasty, Sigismund II Augustus (1548-1572), enriched the castle’s interiors with a magnificent collection of tapestries woven in Brussels. In the “Golden Age” of Polish culture Wawel became one of the main centres of humanism in Europe.

The reign of Sigismund III Waza (1587-1632) also made a strong impression on the history of Wawel. After a fire in the castle in 1595 the king rebuilt the burned wing of the building in the early Baroque style. The relocation of the royal court to Warsaw was the cause of a slow but nevertheless steady deterioration in the castle’s condition. The monarchs visited Kraków only occasionally. Restoration of the castle was undertaken during the reign of John III Sobieski, the Wettins and Stanislas Augustus to counteract neglect.

After Poland had lost its independence in 1795, the troops of partitioning nations, Russia, Prussia and Austria, subsequently occupied Wawel which finally passed into the hands of the Austrians. The new owners converted the castle and some of the secular buildings into a military hospital, and demolished some others, including churches. After the period of the Free City of Kraków (1815-1846) Wawel was once more annexed by Austria and turned into a citadel dominating the city. By the resolution passed by the Seym of Galicia in 1880, the castle was presented as a residence to the Emperor of Austria Franz Josef I. The Austrian troops left the hill between 1905-1911. At the turn of the 20th century a thorough restoration of the cathedral was conducted, and shortly afterwards a process of restoration of the royal castle began which lasted several decades.

When Poland regained its independence in 1918, the castle served as an official residence of the Head of State, and as a museum of historic interiors. During the Nazi occupation the castle was the residence of the German governor general, Hans Frank. Polish people managed to remove the most valuable objects, including the tapestries and the “Szczerbiec” coronation sword to Canada, from where they returned as late as 1959-1961. At present, the main curators of Wawel are Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collection and the Metropolitan Basilica Board on Wawel Hill.