The foundation charter of Säusenstein Abbey is dated 19 September 1336, when the founder, the nobleman Eberhard of Wallsee, granted the site and a substantial endowment to the Cistercian monks of Wilhering Abbey.
The abbey suffered from the Turkish invasions of the 16th century, particularly in connection with the Siege of Vienna in 1526. Although forethought on the part of abbots saved many of the abbey's valuables by sending them for safekeeping elsewhere in advance of the incursions, the community was unable to escape the punishing taxes of the war period, and descended into poverty: one abbot was nearly arrested for failure to pay taxes. During the Reformation, another abbot absconded with the cashbox.
The abbey survived nevertheless and from the later 17th century onwards regained morale and wealth. The premises were rebuilt, and the study of theology and philosophy flourished.
However, the rationalist reforms of the Emperor Joseph II brought about the dissolution of the abbey on 21 May 1789. The abbot of Seitenstetten was appointed administrator and a number of Säusenstein's treasures were removed to Seitenstetten. The buildings of Säusenstein were used as a military hospital by Napoleon's troops during their occupation of Austria, and the buildings were badly damaged by French excesses, resulting among other things in the almost total destruction in about 1801 of the church by arson. Further damage occurred in 1805 and 1809.
It was about this time that the abbey began to be known locally as 'Schloss' Säusenstein.
On the administrator's death in 1812, Säusenstein was taken over by the state, and was sold off in 1825 into private ownership. More destruction and neglect of the buildings followed, and significant demolition took place in 1856, including the loss of two sides of the cloisters, with the construction of the Austrian Western Railway across the site.
The last private owners sold it to the German government. Between 1939 and 1945 it served as an experimental agricultural institution. After the end of World War II Säusenstein lay in the Russian Zone and was occupied by Soviet troops for 10 years. When they left in 1955 the Austrian Forestry Commission took the site over, but paid little attention to the preservation of the buildings.
Soave castle was built in 934 to protect the area against the Hungarian invasions. It was remodelled by Cansignorio of the Scaliger family in the mid-1300s. in 1365 Cansignorio had the town walls erected and the Town hall was built in the same year.
The castle underwent various vicissitudes until, having lost its strategic importance, it was sold on the private market in 1596. In 1830 it was inherited by Giulio Camuzzoni who restored the manor and in particular the surroundings walls (with is twenty-four towers), the battlements and living-quarters.
Soave castle is a typical medieval military edifice, commanding the neighbourhood of the city from the Tenda Hill. It comprises a mastio (donjon) and three lines of walls forming three courts of different size. The outer line, with a gate and a draw bridge, is the most recent, built by the Venetians in the 15th century. It houses the remains of a small church from the 10th century.
The second and larger court, the first of the original castle, is called della Madonna for a fresco portraying St. Mary (1321). Another fresco is visible after the door leading to the inner court, and portrays a Scaliger soldier. The mastio is the most impressive feature of the castle. Bones found within showed it was used also as prison and place of torture.
The House called del Capitano (the Scaliger commander) houses Roman coins, weapons parts, medals and other ancient remains found during the most recent restoration. Adjacent is a bedroom with a 13th-century fresco with St. Mary and Madeleine and a dining room with medieval kitchenware. Another room houses the portraits of the most famous Scaliger figures: Mastino I, Cangrande, Cansignorio and Taddea da Carrara, wife of Mastino II; the portrait of Dante Alighieri testify an alleged sojourn of the poet in the castle.