In 748 Mondsee Abbey was founded by Odilo, Duke of Bavaria. The abbey tradition was that the first monks came from Monte Cassino in Italy. In 788, after the fall of Duke Tassilo III, Mondsee became an Imperial abbey and over the centuries acquired extensive property. Around 800 the Codex Millenarius, an illustrated Latin book of the Gospels was written at the abbey. In 831 King Louis the Pious gave the monastery to Regensburg Cathedral.
It was not until 1142 that it regained its independence, under Abbot Conrad II, otherwise Blessed Conrad of Mondsee. Conrad, formerly a monk of Siegburg Abbey, had been abbot of Mondsee since 1127, and was extremely successful in defending and regaining the rights and possessions of the monastery, to the extent that in 1145 he was murdered by a group of nobles at Oberwang nearby. He was venerated as a martyr and declared Blessed.
Conrad was succeeded as abbot by Blessed Walter of Mondsee (died 17 May 1158), long remembered as a model by the community for his exemplary striving after virtue. He was buried in St. Peter's chapel in the abbey church.
In 1506 possession of the Mondseeland passed from Bavaria to Austria. In 1514 Abbot Wolfgang Haberl established the abbey grammar school. After a period of decline during the Reformation and the consequent disturbances, the abbey entered a new period of prosperity. Under Abbot Bernhard Lidl (1727-73) and especially in connection with the celebration of the thousandth anniversary of the foundation, there was extensive re-building of the church and the monastic premises. From 1773 the abbot was Opportunus II Dunkl, who was the last abbot of Mondsee: in 1791 the abbey was dissolved by Emperor Leopold II.
During the Napoleonic period the Mondseeland reverted to Bavaria for a few years. During that time, in 1810, the Bavarian Field Marshal Prince Karl Philipp von Wrede acquired the abandoned monastery (along with the nearby abbeys of Suben and Gleink), and used it as a castle. Wrede remained the owner even after the return of the territory to Austria and significantly developed the locality, for example by the construction of roads and the establishment of local cheese production. In 1905, on the death of Princess Ignazia von Wrede, Mondsee passed to the Counts Almeida, whose descendants sold it in 1985.References:
Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.
The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.
In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.
Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.
About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.
Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.
A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.