Garsten Abbey is a former Benedictine monastery in Upper Austria. Since 1851, the former monastery buildings have accommodated a prison. The abbey was founded in 1080-82 by Ottokar II of Styria as a community of secular canons and as a dynastic burial place for his family. Together with his fortress, the Styraburg (Schloss Lemberg), it served as a focal point of Ottokar as ruler of the Traungau, and was endowed with significant possessions in the Traisen and Gölsen valleys, in Lower Austria, probably from the dowry of Ottokar's wife Elisabeth, daughter of the Babenberger Leopold II of Austria.
In 1107-08 the monastery was given as a priory to the Benedictine Göttweig Abbey, and became an independent abbey in 1110-11. Its first and greatest abbot was Blessed Berthold of Garsten (d. 1142), a champion of the Hirsau Reforms, who is buried in the abbey church, and who built the abbey up to such a level that for centuries it was the religious, spiritual and cultural centre of the Eisenwurzen region.
In 1787 it was dissolved by Emperor Joseph II. Since 1851 the former monastery buildings have accommodated a prison, Justizanstalt Garsten. This is one of the few prisons in Austria where life sentences are carried out.
The abbey church still survives as a parish church. It was built by the Carlone family of master builders and is considered one of the most beautiful examples of High Baroque architecture in Austria. Particularly notable are the stucco work and the Dutch tapestries. The Losenstein chapel, the sacristy and the summer choir are also of special interest.References:
Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.
Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.
The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.