Dedicated to John the Baptist, the Steingaden abbey was founded in 1147 as a Premonstratensian house by Welf VI, third son of Henry the Black, Duke of Bavaria, and brother of Duke Henry the Proud. The first monks and their abbot came from the Premonstratensian Rot an der Rot Abbey. The Romanesque abbey church was dedicated in 1176. Between 1470 and 1491 the abbey buildings were refurbished under Abbot Caspar Suiter in the Late Gothic style. Welf VI and his son Welf VII were both buried here.
The abbey was looted and burnt in 1525 during the German Peasants' War, and was later almost completely destroyed in the Thirty Years' War. Reconstruction was completed in 1663 under Abbot Augustin Bonenmayr in the style of the early Baroque. During the 1740s the nave of the church was redecorated in the Rococo style.
The abbey's prestigious building projects, combined with its inaccessible location, brought it into financial difficulties which remained insuperable to the end of its existence.
Steingaden Abbey was dissolved in 1803 during the secularisation of Bavaria. The monastic buildings were bought at auction by the Meyer brothers from Aarau, who demolished them in 1819, except for the wing containing the Romanesque cloisters.
The former abbey church, the Welfenmünster, dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, is a Romanesque building of the 1170s under an extravagant Rococo refurbishment carried out by Johann Georg Bergmüller throughout the whole of the 1740s. It survived the dissolution as the parish church of Steingaden, which it remains.
The abbey church was the place of burial of the founder, Welf VI, who died in 1191, and his son Welf VII, who predeceased his father in 1167. Their elaborate tomb was destroyed in 1525. The church retained however a carved sandstone panel of the Welf arms, dating from about 1200 which may well have formed part of the destroyed tomb. Apart from seals and seal impressions this is the oldest known surviving heraldic representation in Germany. The panel was acquired by the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum in Munich in 1861.References:
Kroměříž stands on the site of an earlier ford across the River Morava. The gardens and castle of Kroměříž are an exceptionally complete and well-preserved example of a European Baroque princely residence and its gardens and described as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The first residence on the site was founded by bishop Stanislas Thurzo in 1497. The building was in a Late Gothic style, with a modicum of Renaissance detail. During the Thirty Years' War, the castle was sacked by the Swedish army (1643).
It was not until 1664 that a bishop from the powerful Liechtenstein family charged architect Filiberto Lucchese with renovating the palace in a Baroque style. The chief monument of Lucchese's work in Kroměříž is the Pleasure Garden in front of the castle. Upon Lucchese's death in 1666, Giovanni Pietro Tencalla completed his work on the formal garden and had the palace rebuilt in a style reminiscent of the Turinese school to which he belonged.
After the castle was gutted by a major fire in March 1752, Bishop Hamilton commissioned two leading imperial artists, Franz Anton Maulbertsch and Josef Stern, arrived at the residence in order to decorate the halls of the palace with their works. In addition to their paintings, the palace still houses an art collection, generally considered the second finest in the country, which includes Titian's last mythological painting, The Flaying of Marsyas. The largest part of the collection was acquired by Bishop Karel in Cologne in 1673. The palace also contains an outstanding musical archive and a library of 33,000 volumes.
UNESCO lists the palace and garden among the World Heritage Sites. As the nomination dossier explains, 'the castle is a good but not outstanding example of a type of aristocratic or princely residence that has survived widely in Europe. The Pleasure Garden, by contrast, is a very rare and largely intact example of a Baroque garden'. Apart from the formal parterres there is also a less formal nineteenth-century English garden, which sustained damage during floods in 1997.
Interiors of the palace were extensively used by Miloš Forman as a stand-in for Vienna's Hofburg Imperial Palace during filming of Amadeus (1984), based on the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who actually never visited Kroměříž. The main audience chamber was also used in the film Immortal Beloved (1994), in the piano concerto scene.