St. George's Abbey was founded between 1002 and 1008 by the Countess Wichburg, the wife of Count Ottwin von Sonnenburg of Pustertal. Wichbirg was the sister of the Archbishop Hartwig. The founder's daughter Hildpurg, a nun in the Nonnberg Benedictine abbey in Salzburg, was ordained as the first abbess, and brought the first nuns with her. Count Ottwin and Countess Wichburg were entombed in the crypt of the convent. In the 12th century the convent was reformed. It was placed under the direction of the abbot Wolford of Admont Abbey in 1122. From the 1170s the convent returned to the suzerainty of Salzburg. There is a record of Ulrich II, Duke of Carinthia making a donation to the monastery on 31 March 1199.
The convent suffered economic difficulties, and had difficulty paying taxes to support the Turkish wars. At one point during the Protestant Reformation the community was reduced to the abbess Dorothea Rumpf and two other nuns. They later received support from the Göss Abbey, including the Abbess Afra von Staudach (1562), which helped renew the community. By 1683 the convent had 31 nuns and 16 lay sisters. It had an apothecary, and cared for as many as 500 invalids each year. The convent also ran a school.
1783 the monastery was dissolved by Emperor Joseph II. In 1788 it was put up for auction. Maximilian Thaddäus von Egger bought it for 163,100 gulden and made the monastery complex the new seat of the Count of Egger. The castle was opened to tourists around the end of the 18th century. In 1934 it was sold to the Missionary Order of Mariannhill. During World War II (1939-45) it served for a while as the seminary of Gurk, then was converted into a military hospital in 1943. The Marianhiller's took the building back in 1948. In 1959 it was purchased by the Diocese of Gurk for use as an Episcopal educational establishment.
Today the former Benedictine convent includes a church where services are still held, an educational establishment run by the diocese, a hotel and seminar facilities.
The convent and the church, with its crypt, are built on stone foundations that date back to Roman times. The north-west wing of the present complex was built in 1546 In the years 1654 to 1658 the monastery was remodeled in the baroque style by the architect Pietro Francesco Carlone. The impressive high altar was probably built in the late 17th century. Parts of the original buildings and the Renaissance arcades in the northern courtyard have been preserved.References:
Kroměříž stands on the site of an earlier ford across the River Morava. The gardens and castle of Kroměříž are an exceptionally complete and well-preserved example of a European Baroque princely residence and its gardens and described as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The first residence on the site was founded by bishop Stanislas Thurzo in 1497. The building was in a Late Gothic style, with a modicum of Renaissance detail. During the Thirty Years' War, the castle was sacked by the Swedish army (1643).
It was not until 1664 that a bishop from the powerful Liechtenstein family charged architect Filiberto Lucchese with renovating the palace in a Baroque style. The chief monument of Lucchese's work in Kroměříž is the Pleasure Garden in front of the castle. Upon Lucchese's death in 1666, Giovanni Pietro Tencalla completed his work on the formal garden and had the palace rebuilt in a style reminiscent of the Turinese school to which he belonged.
After the castle was gutted by a major fire in March 1752, Bishop Hamilton commissioned two leading imperial artists, Franz Anton Maulbertsch and Josef Stern, arrived at the residence in order to decorate the halls of the palace with their works. In addition to their paintings, the palace still houses an art collection, generally considered the second finest in the country, which includes Titian's last mythological painting, The Flaying of Marsyas. The largest part of the collection was acquired by Bishop Karel in Cologne in 1673. The palace also contains an outstanding musical archive and a library of 33,000 volumes.
UNESCO lists the palace and garden among the World Heritage Sites. As the nomination dossier explains, 'the castle is a good but not outstanding example of a type of aristocratic or princely residence that has survived widely in Europe. The Pleasure Garden, by contrast, is a very rare and largely intact example of a Baroque garden'. Apart from the formal parterres there is also a less formal nineteenth-century English garden, which sustained damage during floods in 1997.
Interiors of the palace were extensively used by Miloš Forman as a stand-in for Vienna's Hofburg Imperial Palace during filming of Amadeus (1984), based on the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who actually never visited Kroměříž. The main audience chamber was also used in the film Immortal Beloved (1994), in the piano concerto scene.