The Franciscan Friary in Bolzano was founded in 1221. According a legend, young Saint Francis accompanied his cloth merchant father, Pietro Bernardone, on a business trip to Bolzano. While there, the young Francis took Mass in the Chapel of Saints Ingenuinus and Erhard, and the bells rang out. The Chapel is today part of the friary complex.
However, the original structure was destroyed by fire in 1291 and the friary was rebuilt in 1322. In 1348 the Franciscan church belonging to it was ready to be consecrated.
The start of the 16th century saw a loss of discipline, notably with regard to the Franciscan Vow of Poverty. Following years of conflict and division within the Franciscan Order, 1514 was a year of important monastic reform in Bolzano which adopted the 'Observants' principles. In 1580 the friary at Bolzano became part of the newly-established stand-alone Franciscan Tirolean Province.
In 1780 the Empress Maria Theresa inaugurated the city's Franciscan Gymnasium (school) for which the friary was mandated to provide the teaching and leadership. During the time of Bavarian occupation, in 1810, the friary found itself abolished and some of its lands forfeit, shortly after which the buildings were used as a military barracks till 1813. However, the region was restored to Austria following the defeat of Napoleon and the Franciscans were able to return to their friary.
The church was destroyed on 29 March 1944 by aerial bombing, but was rebuilt after the war. During the immediate postwar years the South Tyrol was one of the few German-speaking regions of Europe not under the direct military control of the winning powers, and the friary was one of a number of establishments in the region used as a temporary hiding place for high-ranking Nazis heading for more permanent refuges outside Europe.
The church tower is 44 metres high and was completed in 1376. It is topped off with an octagonal pyramid above eight little acoustic windows.
The Gothic church itself comprises a three-aisled nave and a choir section with a polygonal plan, under a ribbed arched roof, all primarily constructed out of pink sandstone. The apse is dominated by three large windows of modern stained glass, which are the work of the Innsbruck artist, Josef Widmoser.
The choir accommodates an elaborately carved and painted late Gothic 'winged altar' constructed around 1500 by Hans Klocker. This was originally housed in the St Anna Chapel that was built at the same time as the church and in 1373 donated by the Vintler family of Bolzano.
The Gothic cloisters date back to the 14th century, and are decorated by a succession of frescoes of the Giotto school, although the surviving display is fragmentary. There are also fragments visible from later centuries of 17th century interventions and additions by Ludwig Pfendter and others.References:
The first historical record of Lednice locality dates from 1222. At that time there stood a Gothic fort with courtyard, which was lent by Czech King Václav I to Austrian nobleman Sigfried Sirotek in 1249.
At the end of the 13th century the Liechtensteins, originally from Styria, became holders of all of Lednice and of nearby Mikulov. They gradually acquired land on both sides of the Moravian-Austrian border. Members of the family most often found fame in military service, during the Renaissance they expanded their estates through economic activity. From the middle of the 15th century members of the family occupied the highest offices in the land. However, the family’s position in Moravia really changed under the brothers Karel, Maximilian, and Gundakar of Liechtenstein. Through marriage Karel and Maximilian acquired the great wealth of the old Moravian dynasty of the Černohorskýs of Boskovice. At that time the brothers, like their father and grandfather, were Lutheran, but they soon converted to Catholicism, thus preparing the ground for their rise in politics. Particularly Karel, who served at the court of Emperor Rudolf II, became hetman of Moravia in 1608, and was later raised to princely status by King Matyas II and awarded the Duchy of Opava.
During the revolt of the Czech nobility he stood on the side of the Habsburgs, and took part in the Battle of White Mountain. After the uprising was defeated in 1620 he systematically acquired property confiscated from some of the rebels, and the Liechtensteins became the wealthiest family in Moravia, rising in status above the Žerotíns. Their enormous land holdings brought them great profits, and eventually allowed them to carry out their grandious building projects here in Lednice.
In the 16th century it was probably Hartmann II of Liechtenstein who had the old medieval water castle torn down and replaced with a Renaissance chateau. At the end of the 17th century the chateau was torn down and a Baroque palace was built, with an extensive formal garden, and a massive riding hall designed by Johann Bernard Fischer von Erlach that still stands in almost unaltered form.
In the mid-18th century the chateau was again renovated, and in 1815 its front tracts that had been part of the Baroque chateau were removed.
The chateau as it looks today dates from 1846-1858, when Prince Alois II decided that Vienna was not suitable for entertaining in the summer, and had Lednice rebuilt into a summer palace in the spirit of English Gothic. The hall on the ground floor would serve to entertain the European aristocracy at sumptuous banquets, and was furnished with carved wood ceilings, wooden panelling, and select furniture, surpassing anything of its kind in Europe.