Seitenstetten Abbey was founded in 1112 by Udalschalk, a relative of Bishop Ulrich of Passau, to which he gave all his estates as an endowment. In 1114 the new foundation was settled by monks from Göttweig Abbey. Bishop Ulrich dedicated the church in 1116 and granted the abbey the large parish of Aschbach. In 1142 it also received the large parish of Wolfsbach. Out of these two original parishes were formed the fourteen modern parishes for which the abbey is still responsible.
Despite many setbacks, including two serious fires and many disputes over property, the abbey gradually developed. In 1347 the community had 22 members. After a lengthy period of decline Abbot Benedikt I, formerly prior of the Schottenstift in Vienna, introduced the Melk Reforms at Seitenstetten, thus bringing about a revival in its spiritual and cultural life. This abbot had a chapel built and dedicated in 1440 on the Sonntagberg and so established the Sonntagberger Pilgrimage under the control and protection of the abbey.
Thereafter the abbey was hard hit by the Hungarian disturbances associated with Matthias Corvinus, the Turkish taxes and above all the Reformation; the number of monks declined sharply.
Abbot Christoph Held (1572-1602) started the beginning of spiritual revival with the powerful support of the Imperial Council. Under the abbots that followed, the monastery got its Baroque appearance. After the Thirty Years' War did Abbot Gabriel Sauer (1648-74) finally succeed in stabilising the abbey economically and then in bringing about a true religious renewal.
Abbot Benedikt II Abelzhauser (1687-1717) commissioned Jakob Prandtauer to build the magnificent Pilgrimage Church of the Holy Trinity on the Sonntagberg. The early Gothic abbey church was lavishly refurbished, including work by Franz Joseph Feuchtmayer. Between 1718 and 1747 the Baroque conventual buildings that still stand today were constructed. Ceiling frescoes in the Marble Hall (1735) and the library (1740) were painted by Paul Troger.
After the difficulties of the anti-monastic policies of Emperor Joseph II and of the Napoleonic wars, the abbey gradually regained its strength through the 19th century, until the time of Abbot Theodor Springer (1920-58), who not only brought the abbey safely through the economic crisis after World War I but also through the National Socialist period and World War II without its being dissolved, as so many other monasteries were.
Besides the major works of art and architecture mentioned previously, there are also the Romanesque Knights' Chapel, the picture gallery, and the garden, which contains about 110 different types of rose, mostly historical.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.