The Schottenstift (Scottish Abbey) is a Roman Catholic monastery founded in Vienna in 1155 when Henry II of Austria brought Irish monks to Vienna. The monks did not come directly from Ireland, but came instead from Scots Monastery in Regensburg, Germany. Henry granted the new monastery extensive privileges. Construction of the first monastery started in 1160, and the structure was consecrated in 1200. The monastery was outside the city walls of Vienna. The monks also built a hospice for pilgrims and crusaders, who often passed through Vienna on their way to Jerusalem.
The first church was a three-aisled Romanesque pillar church with a single apse. Henry II was buried there upon his death in 1177. A fire in the year 1276 destroyed the cloister and many other buildings in Vienna.
In 1418, Duke Albert V seized the cloister during the Melker Reform, an attempt to revive the original ideals of Benedictine monasticism, and settled a community of Benedictines in their place. These new residents, however, continued to be known as the 'Schotten'.
The collapse of the tower, struck by a lightning bolt in 1638, was seized as an opportunity to completely rebuild the church, a project undertaken by the architects Andrea d'Allio the Younger and Silvestro Carlone. The church was somewhat shortened, and the tower no longer stood directly beside the basilica. Joachim von Sandrart provided the church with a new altar piece, which today is kept in the prelates' hall. After the Turkish siege, the church was restored. As the Baroque west tower was barely higher than the façade itself, its extension has often been proposed, but this has never come to fruition.
In 1773 and 1774, a new priory, with school, was built by Andreas Zach in the grounds of an open air cemetery. In 1807 the Schottengymnasium, an institute for secondary education, was founded by imperial decree. Around 1830, the auxiliary buildings of the Abbey, in particular those that bordered on the Freyung, were renovated and partially rebuilt by Joseph Kornhäusel. In the 1880s the church was restored and partially renovated. From this period date the ceiling paintings by Julius Schmid, and a new high altar, built from sketches by Heinrich von Ferstel, with a mosaic by Michael Rieser.
Today Schottenstift is a museum. It contains, among other notable items, the Schottenmeisteraltar from ca. 1470.References:
Perched atop its cliff where the Ploučnice meets the Elbe, Děčín Castle is one of the oldest and largest landmarks in northern Bohemia. In the past several hundred years it has served as a point of control for the Bohemian princes, a military fortress, and noble estate.
The forerunner of the Děčín Castle was a wooden fortress built towards the end of the 10th century by the Bohemian princes. The first written record of the province dates from 993 A.D. and of the fortress itself from 1128. In the thirteenth century it was rebuilt in stone as a royal castle that, under unknown circumstances, fell into the hands of the powerful Wartenberg dynasty around 1305.
Numerous later renovations has erased all but fragments of the original medieval semblance of the castle. A significant change to the castle came in the second half of the 16th century when it was held by the Saxon Knights of Bünau, who gradually rebuilt the lower castle into a Renaissance palace with a grand ceremonial hall. The current semblance of the castle is the work of the Thun-Hohensteins, who held the Děčín lands from 1628 to 1932. The Thuns originally came from southern Tyrol and gradually worked their way to the upper echelons of Hapsburg society where they regularly filled important political and church appointments.
The Thuns reworked the castle twice. The first reconstruction, in the Baroque style, was undertaken by Maximilian von Thun, Imperial envoy and diplomat, and was meant to enhance the ceremonial aspects of the property. A central element of the project was a grand access road, the Long Drive, ending in the upper gate of the completely rebuilt entry wing. Along the drive stretched an ornamental garden (today known as the Rose Garden) and a riding yard. Maximilian’s brother Johann Ernst von Thun was responsible for the erection of the Church of the Ascension of the Holy Cross in the town below.
The second and final reconstruction of the castle was undertaken in 1786–1803. The Gothic and Renaissance palaces were torn down, all structures were leveled to the same height and gave them a unified facade. On the riverfront the castle's new dominant feature arose, a slender clock tower. Thus the castle took on the Baroque-Classical style we see today.
In the course of the 19th century, the castle became an important cultural and political center. In the 20th century the castle was used as a military garrison for German and Soviet troops after being handed to the Czechoslovak state in 1932. In 1991 the castle reverted to the ownership of the city of Děčín and the gradual renovation of the devastated structure began.
The eastern wing serves as a branch of the Děčín Regional Museum. The northern wing is occupied by the State District Archives. The staterooms of the western wing welcome individual and group tours, weddings, concerts, exhibits, and other cultural events. The castle courtyard comes to life throughout the year with events ranging from the Historic May Fair to the Wine Festival in September.