UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Austria

Schönbrunn Palace

Schönbrunn Palace is a former imperial summer residence located in Vienna. The 1,441-room Baroque palace is one of the most important architectural, cultural, and historical monuments in the country. The history of the palace and its vast gardens spans over 300 years, reflecting the changing tastes, interests, and aspirations of successive Habsburg monarchs. The site of the Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn is o ...
Founded: 1740 | Location: Vienna, Austria

Historic Centre of Salzburg

Salzburg"s Old Town (Altstadt) is internationally renowned for its baroque architecture and is one of the best-preserved city centers north of the Alps. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. Salzburg is an outstanding example of an ecclesiastical city-state, peculiar to the Holy Roman Empire, from Prussia to Italy. Most disappeared as political and administrative units in the early 19th century and ...
Founded: | Location: Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg Cathedral

Salzburg"s Cathedral is probably the city"s most significant piece of church architecture and its ecclesiastical center. With its magnificent façade and mighty dome it represents the most impressive early Baroque edifice north of the Alps. The cathedral origin is closely connected to the ecclesiastical principality"s demeanour and growth. Destroyed by fire and rebuilt, enlarged and expanded, it bear ...
Founded: 774 AD | Location: Salzburg, 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

Hohensalzburg Castle

Hohensalzburg Castle is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe. Construction of the fortress began in 1077 under Archbishop Gebhard von Helfenstein. In the Holy Roman Empire, the archbishops of Salzburg were already powerful political figures and they expanded the castle to protect their interests. Gebhard"s conflict with Emperor Henry IV during the Investiture Controversy influenced the expansion of the castl ...
Founded: 1077 | Location: Salzburg, Austria

Historic Centre of Graz

Graz old town is one of the best-preserved city centres in Central Europe. The oldest settlement on the ground of the modern city of Graz dates back to the Chalcolithic Age. However, no historical continuity exists of a settlement before the Middle Ages. During the 12th century, dukes under Babenberg rule made the town into an important commercial center. Later, Graz came under the rule of the Habsburgs, and in 1281, gain ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Graz, Austria

Hallstatt

Hallstatt is a village in the Salzkammergut area. It is known for its production of salt, dating back to prehistoric times, and gave its name to the Hallstatt culture, a culture often linked to Celtic, Proto-Celtic, and pre-Illyrian peoples in Early Iron Age Europe, c.800–450 BC. Some of the earliest archaeological evidence for the Celts was found in Hallstatt. The village also gave its name to the early Iron Age C ...
Founded: | Location: Hallstatt, Austria

Salzburg Residenz

For centuries the Archbishops of Salzburg resided at the Salzburg Residenz and used the palace to present and represent their political status. Today the Salzburg Residenz palace is a museum and one of the most impressive attractions in the city. The earliest recorded reference to the bishop"s palace was in a document dated 1232. Construction began under Archbishop Konrad I. In the 16th century, several changes and ...
Founded: 1596 | Location: Salzburg, Austria

Mirabell Palace

Mirabell Palace with its gardens is part of the Historic Centre of the City of Salzburg UNESCO World Heritage Site. The palace was built about 1606 on the shore of the Salzach river north of the medieval city walls, at the behest of Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich Raitenau. The Archbishop suffered from gout and had a stroke the year before; to evade the narrow streets of the city, he decided to erect a pleasure palace for ...
Founded: 1606 | Location: Salzburg, Austria

Eggenberg Palace

Eggenberg Palace in Graz is the most significant Baroque palace complex in Styria. With its preserved accouterments, the extensive scenic gardens as well as some additional collections from the Universalmuseum Joanneum housed in the palace and park, Schloss Eggenberg counts among the most valuable cultural assets of Austria. With its construction and accouterment history, it exhibits the vicissitude and patronage of the o ...
Founded: 1625-1636 | Location: Graz, 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

Semmering Railway

The Semmering railway, which starts at Gloggnitz and leads over the Semmering to Mürzzuschlag was the first mountain railway in Europe built with a standard gauge track. It is commonly referred to as the world"s first true mountain railway, given the very difficult terrain and the considerable altitude difference that was mastered during its construction. It is still fully functional as a part of the Southern Ra ...
Founded: 1848-1854 | Location: Semmering-Kurort, Austria

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora (Monastery of St. Vincent Outside the Walls) is a 17th-century church and monastery in the city of Lisbon. It is one of the most important monasteries and mannerist buildings in the country. The monastery also contains the royal pantheon of the Braganza monarchs of Portugal.

The original Monastery of São Vicente de Fora was founded around 1147 by the first Portuguese King, Afonso Henriques, for the Augustinian Order. The Monastery, built in Romanesque style outside the city walls, was one of the most important monastic foundations in mediaeval Portugal. It is dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa, patron saint of Lisbon, whose relics were brought from the Algarve to Lisbon in the 12th century.

The present buildings are the result of a reconstruction ordered by King Philip II of Spain, who had become King of Portugal (as Philip I) after a succession crisis in 1580. The church of the monastery was built between 1582 and 1629, while other monastery buildings were finished only in the 18th century. The author of the design of the church is thought to be the Italian Jesuit Filippo Terzi and/or the Spaniard Juan de Herrera. The plans were followed and modified by Leonardo Turriano, Baltazar Álvares, Pedro Nunes Tinoco and João Nunes Tinoco.

The church of the Monastery has a majestic, austere façade that follows the later Renaissance style known as Mannerism. The façade, attributed to Baltazar Álvares, has several niches with statues of saints and is flanked by two towers (a model that would become widespread in Portugal). The lower part of the façade has three arches that lead to the galilee (entrance hall). The floorplan of the church reveals a Latin cross building with a one-aisled nave with lateral chapels. The church is covered by barrel vaulting and has a huge dome over the crossing. The general design of the church interior follows that of the prototypic church of Il Gesù, in Rome.

The beautiful main altarpiece is a Baroque work of the 18th century by one of the best Portuguese sculptors, Joaquim Machado de Castro. The altarpiece has the shape of a baldachin and is decorated with a large number of statues. The church also boasts several fine altarpieces in the lateral chapels.

The Monastery buildings are reached through a magnificent baroque portal, located beside the church façade. Inside, the entrance is decorated with blue-white 18th century tiles that tell the history of the Monastery, including scenes of the Siege of Lisbon in 1147. The ceiling of the room has an illusionistic painting executed in 1710 by the Italian Vincenzo Baccarelli. The sacristy of the Monastery is exuberantly decorated with polychromed marble and painting. The cloisters are also notable for the 18th century tiles that recount fables of La Fontaine, among other themes.

In 1834, after the religious orders were dissolved in Portugal, the monastery was transformed into a palace for the archbishops of Lisbon. Some decades later, King Ferdinand II transformed the monks' old refectory into a pantheon for the kings of the House of Braganza. Their tombs were transferred from the main chapel to this room.