Schloss Stainz is a former monastery of the Augustinian Canons in Stainz. Today the Baroque complex belongs to the Counts of Meran and hosts two museum collections from the Universal Museum Joanneum.
Stainz Priory was founded by the Augustinian Canons in 1229 when Leutold I von Wildon, lord of the manor of Stainz, allowed a small church with a monastery attached to be established on the mountain where his castle stood. The monastery was settled by canons regular from Seckau Priory.
The priory experienced its heyday during the early 16th century under provost Jakob Roselenz (1596-1629), under whom the community was reorganised and the church, previously neglected, was enlarged. The interior was later refurbished in the Baroque style with extensive stucco decoration. The church organ counts among the largest and most melodious in Styria and was restored in 1980.
The monastery was dissolved in 1785 as part of the rationalist reforms of the Emperor Joseph II. The church however remained in use.
In 1840 Archduke Johann, son of Leopold II and an avid hunter, purchased the building complex from the town for the sum of 40,000 guilders for use as a hunting box, known thereafter as Schloss Stainz. Since his death in 1859, it has remained in the family estate of his descendants, the Counts of Meran.
Today, besides offering gardens and rooms to rent for engagements, the castle houses two collections from the Universal Museum Joanneum. The Steirisches Jagdmuseum ('Styrian Hunting Museum') was opened in 2006. The interdisciplinary approach of this collection combines contemporary technology with historic equipment, weapons and specimens to explore the historical, sociological and anthropological, as well as the philosophical and ethical phenomena of the human practice of hunting in addition to wildlife ecology.
In 2009 the Landwirtschaftsmuseum Schloss Stainz ('Museum of Agriculture and Forestry') also opened, displaying collections of rural Styrian folk culture. The main focus of the exhibition is on the agricultural implements and the household effects of the Styrian countryside from the Stone Age to the present. The exhibition displays objects related to the different branches of agriculture and husbandry and offers a fitting companion to the Hunting Museum.
In addition to the two permanent exhibitions of the Joanneum, areas of the castle, for example the courtyard, the cellar, the arcades and the terrace, are also rented out for private events.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).