Göttweig Abbey was founded as a monastery of canons regular by Blessed Altmann, Bishop of Passau. The high altar of the church was dedicated in 1072, but the monastery itself not until 1083: the foundation charter, dated 9 September 1083, is still preserved in the abbey archives.

By 1094 the discipline of the community had become so lax that Bishop Ulrich of Passau, with the permission of Pope Urban II, introduced the Rule of St. Benedict. Prior Hartmann of St. Blaise's Abbey in the Black Forest was elected abbot. He brought with him from St. Blaise's a number of chosen monks, among whom were Blessed Wirnto and Blessed Berthold, later abbots of Formbach and Garsten respectively. Under Hartmann (1094–1114) Göttweig became a famous seat of learning and strict monastic observance. He founded a monastic school, organized a library, and at the foot of the hill built a nunnery where it is believed that Ava, the earliest German language poetess known by name (d. 1127), lived as an anchorite. The nunnery, which was afterwards transferred to the top of the hill, continued to exist until 1557.

During the 15th and 16th centuries however the abbey declined so rapidly that between 1556 and 1564 it had no abbot at all, and in 1564 not a single monk was left here. At this crisis an imperial deputation arrived at Göttweig, and elected Michael Herrlich, a monk of Melk Abbey, as abbot. The new abbot, who held his office until 1604, restored the monastery spiritually and financially, and rebuilt it after it had been almost entirely destroyed by fire in 1580.

Abbots distinguished during the Reformation were George Falb (1612–1631) and David Corner (1631–1648), who successfully opposed the spread of Protestantism in the district.

In 1718 the monastery burnt down and was rebuilt on a grander scale during the abbacy of Gottfried Bessel (1714-1749) to designs by Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt inspired by the Escorial, a scheme so lavish that Abbot Gottfried was nearly deposed because of it. The fresco decorating the imperial staircase is considered a masterpiece of Baroque architecture in Austria. Executed by Paul Troger in 1739, it represents the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI as Apollo.

The abbey has a library of 130,000 books and manuscripts, and a particularly important collection of religious engravings, besides valuable collections of coins, antiquities, musical manuscripts and natural history, all of which survived the dangers of World War II and its immediate aftermath almost without loss.

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Founded: 1083
Category: Religious sites in Austria

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4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Dallas Ervin (17 months ago)
Very beautiful Benedictine Abby. The wall and ceiling murals are exquisite.
Dallas Ervin (2 years ago)
A very beautiful Abbott Monestary. Well worth the visit.
Mihai Bojonca (2 years ago)
A place very rich in history, very well maintained, beautiful scenery. Worth visiting and learning about its place in history.
Walter Atigian (2 years ago)
A tour of this location was arranged through Viking Cruise Line and it was one of the most remarkable sites we visited. The location high atop a hill overlooking the beautiful valley and town below is breathtaking. The church and abbey interiors are spectacular plus their apricot wine and jams are delicious. This is a place you won't soon forget and one we would like to return to.
Jeffrey Svarverud (2 years ago)
A beautiful functioning abbey. Today they abbey manages a large forest with timber production, a winner and they are famous for their apricot products. A beautiful facility with wonderful frescoes and other items. This is the only place I have seen giant Red wood trees over 100 years old. The seeds were brought back from America by one of the monks that visited there. Truly a magical place.
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