Saint Paul's Abbey in Lavanttal is a Benedictine monastery established in 1091 by the Sponheim count Engelbert I, Margrave of Istria. It was built on the site of a former castle and a church consecrated by Archbishop Hartwig of Salzburg in 991.
Backed by subsidies from Hirsau Abbey as well as by Engelbert's brother Archbishop Hartwig of Magdeburg, the monastery quickly prospered and with its own scriptorium and a grammar school evolved to the most significant Abbey in Carinthia. Pope Urban II put it unter papal protection in 1099 and prevented the development to a proprietary monastery of the Sponheim dynasty.
During the 15th century conflict of the Habsburg duke Frederick III with the Counts of Celje, the troops of Count Ulrich II devastated the premises. The abbey was again ravaged by Ottoman forces in 1476 and besieged by the Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus in 1480. In the beginning Ottoman–Habsburg wars, the Habsburg rulers increasingly encumbered the monastery with tributes, they rivalled with the Prince-Archbishops of Salzburg to exert influence, while the conventual life decayed. In the 16th century, large parts of Carinthia turned Protestant and two abbots were declared deposed by Archduke Charles II of Inner Austria.
The resurgence of St. Paul's began under Hieronymus Marchstaller, abbot from 1616. The derelict premises around the monastery church were rebuilt according to plans modelled on the Spanish Escorial. The reconstruction was completed under Marchstaller's successors until 1683.
The abbey was dissolved in 1782 by decree of Emperor Joseph II, but resettled in 1809 with monks descending from St. Blaise Abbey in the Black Forest.
Within the abbey precinct there is a Romanesque basilica dating from the end of the 12th century. After a fire in 1367 a Gothic vaulted ceiling was added, painted with 44 frescoes by the Tyrolean masters Friedrich and Michael Pacher.
The interior decoration of the church by the Styrian artist Philipp Jakob Straub dates from the 18th century. Beneath the Baroque high altar is a crypt, in which are the coffins of 13 members of the Habsburg family.References:
Medvedgrad is a medieval fortified town located on the south slopes of Medvednica mountain, approximately halfway from the Croatian capital Zagreb to the mountain top Sljeme. For defensive purposes it was built on a hill, Mali Plazur, that is a spur of the main ridge of the mountain that overlooks the city. On a clear day the castle can be seen from far away, especially the high main tower. Below the main tower of the castle is Oltar Domovine (Altar of the homeland) which is dedicated to Croatian soldiers killed in the Croatian War of Independence.
In 1242, Mongols invaded Zagreb. The city was destroyed and burned to the ground. This prompted the building of Medvedgrad. Encouraged by Pope Innocent IV, Philip Türje, bishop of Zagreb, built the fortress between 1249 and 1254. It was later owned by bans of Slavonia. Notable Croatian and Hungarian poet and ban of Slavonia Janus Pannonius (Ivan Česmički) died in the Medvedgrad castle on March 27, 1472.
The last Medvedgrad owners and inhabitants was the Gregorijanec family, who gained possession of Medvedgrad in 1562. In 1574, the walls of Medvedgrad were reinforced, but after the 1590 Neulengbach earthquake, the fortress was heavily damaged and ultimately abandoned. It remained in ruins until the late 20th century, when it was partly restored and now offers a panoramic view of the city from an altitude of over 500 meters.