The Benedictine priory and erstwhile abbey of Andechs is a place of pilgrimage and famed for its flamboyant Baroque church (1712). The abbey runs a brewery, Klosterbrauerei Andechs.
The site of Andechs was originally occupied by a castle belonging to the counts of Dießen on the Ammersee, probably built on a Roman castrum, and remained the seat of the powerful counts of Dießen-Andechs (1135 to 1180) and dukes of Andechs-Merania (1180 to 1248). In 1132 the count donated his ancestral seat at Dießen to the Holy See and moved to Andechs.
Otto II of Andechs was bishop of Bamberg, 1177 – 1196. In 1208, when Philip of Swabia, King of the Germans, was assassinated at Bamberg by Otto of Wittelsbach, members of the house of Andechs were implicated, and the castle at Andechs was razed before the family was rehabilitated.
When the dukes of Andechs-Merania were extinguished in the direct male line in 1248, the entire region was annexed by the bishop of Bamberg. A history of the house of Andechs was written by Joseph Hormayr, Baron zu Hortenburg, the historian-statesman, and published in 1796.
In 955, relics which Rasso, count of Diessen, had brought from Rome and the Holy Land to his monastery at Wörth (later called Grafrath) had been transferred to this site to preserve them from the ravages of the Hungarians. In the 12th century three consecrated Hosts, two of which are reputed to have been consecrated by Pope Gregory I the other by Pope Leo IX were added to the relics at the heilige Berg (holy mountain). The first documented pilgrimages to Andechs were in 1138, when count Berthold II ordered his subjects to make the journey to venerate the relics in the chapel of St Nicholas at the Schloss. The legendary rediscovery of long-lost reliquaries in 1388 revived the ancient pilgrimage trade. The Andechs hosts were approved by Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa, otherwise a foe of such cults of wonder hosts.
The late-Gothic collegiate church which Duke Ernest I (1392 – 1438) had erected in 1423 was changed into a Benedictine monastery by Duke Albert III in 1455, and filled with monks from Tegernsee Abbey. In 1458 it was raised to the status of an abbey, and thenceforth enjoyed a period of uninterrupted prosperity, completely remodeled in Baroque style in 1712, and forming part of the Hofmark Erling (Heiliger Berg Andechs) until its secularization in 1803. It was refounded in 1850 as a Benedictine priory, affiliated to the Abbey of St Boniface in Munich. The present church dates from the 18th century. The 20th-century German composer Carl Orff is buried there.References:
Ängsö Castle was first named as "Engsev" in a royal charter by king Canute I of Sweden (r. 1167-1196), in which he stated that he had inherited the property after his father Eric IX of Sweden. Until 1272, it was owned by the Riseberga Abbey, and then taken over by Gregers Birgersson.
From 1475 until 1710, it was owned by the Sparre family. The current castle was built as a fortress by riksråd Bengt Fadersson Sparre in the 1480s. In 1522, Ängsö Castle was taken after a siege by king Gustav Vasa, since its owner, Fadersson's son Knut Bengtsson, sided with Christian II of Denmark. However, in 1538 it was given by the king to Bengtsson's daughter Hillevi Knutsdotter, who was married to Arvid Trolle.
In 1710, the castle was taken over by Carl Piper and Christina Piper. Ängsö Castle was owned by the Piper family from 1710 until 1971, and is now owned by the Westmanna foundation. The castle building itself was made into a museum in 1959 and was made a listed building in 1965. It is currently opened to visitors during the summers.
The castle is a cubical building in four stores made by stone and bricks. The lower parts is preserved from the middle ages. It was redecorated and expanded in the 1630s. The 4th storey as well as the roof is from the expansion of Carl Hårleman from 1740-41. It gained its current appearance in the 1740s.