Wilhering Abbey, re-constructed in the 18th century, are known for their spectacular Rococo decoration. The monastery was founded by Ulrich and Kolo of Wilhering, who donated their family's old castle for the purpose in 1146. The abbey almost came to an end during the Protestant Reformation, when Abbot Erasmus Mayer absconded with its funds to Nuremberg, where he married. By 1585, there were no monks left at the abbey, which was only saved by the efforts of Abbot Alexander a Lacu, who was installed by the Emperor during the Counter-Reformation.
The abbey buildings were almost entirely destroyed by fire on 6 March 1733. Of the previous buildings, only a Romanesque doorway, parts of the Gothic cloister and two tombs remained. Abbot Johann Baptist Hinterhölzl (1734-1750) made emergency repairs to the church using the remnants of the walls. The church was later completely rebuilt in the Rococo style by Johann Haslinger of Linz. The ceiling and altar paintings are by Martino Altomonte and his son Bartolomeo, while the richly coloured stucco work is by Johann Michael Feichtmayr and Johann Georg Ueblherr. The result is now one of the most significant Rococo buildings in the German-speaking world.
In 1940, Wilhering Abbey was expropriated by the Nazis, and the monks were expelled; some were arrested and sent to concentration camps, while others were forced into military service. The abbot, Dr. Bernhard Burgstaller, was imprisoned and died of starvation in 1941. The buildings were used at first to accommodate the seminary from Linz, and then from 1944 for displaced Germans from Bessarabia and as a military hospital. In 1945, American troops took over the premises. The monks returned in the same year to resume monastic life and to reopen the school. As of 2007, the monastic community numbered 28.
Today the abbey's business enterprises—mainly forestry, farming, and greenhouses—provide a sound economic basis for the monastery. There is also a school for about 450 children.References:
Castle Rushen is located in the Isle of Man"s historic capital, Castletown. The castle is amongst the best examples of medieval castles in the British Isles, and is still in use as a court house, museum and educational centre.
The exact date of castle is unknown, although construction is thought to have taken place during the reigns of the late 12th century and early 13th century rulers of the Isle of Man – the Kings of Mann and the Isles. The original Castle Rushen consisted of a central square stone tower, or keep. The site was also fortified to guard the entrance to the Silver Burn. From its early beginnings, the castle was continually developed by successive rulers of Mann between the 13th and 16th century. The limestone walls dominated much of the surrounding landscape, serving as a point of dominance for the various rulers of the Isle of Man. By 1313, the original keep had been reinforced with towers to the west and south. In the 14th century, an east tower, gatehouses, and curtain wall were added.
After several more changes of hands the English and their supporters eventually prevailed. The English king Edward I Longshanks claimed that the island had belonged to the Kings of England for generations and he was merely reasserting their rightful claim to the Isle of Man.
The 18th century saw the castle in steady decay. By the end of the century it was converted into a prison. Even though the castle was in continuous use as a prison, the decline continued until the turn of the 20th century, when it was restored under the oversight of the Lieutenant Governor, George Somerset, 3rd Baron Raglan. Following the restoration work, and the completion of the purpose-built Victoria Road Prison in 1891, the castle was transferred from the British Crown to the Isle of Man Government in 1929.
Today it is run as a museum by Manx National Heritage, depicting the history of the Kings and Lords of Mann. Most rooms are open to the public during the opening season (March to October), and all open rooms have signs telling their stories. The exhibitions include a working medieval kitchen where authentic period food is prepared on special occasions and re-enactments of various aspects of medieval life are held on a regular basis, with particular emphasis on educating the local children about their history. Archaeological finds made during excavations in the 1980s are displayed and used as learning tools for visitors.