Kappel Abbey is first mentioned in 1185. The abbey was founded by the Freiherr of Eschenbach. The name was derived from a chapel in which, according to a foundation legend, hermits used to live. Between the 13th to 15th Centuries the Abbey received several Imperial and Royal privileges.
On the site of the original church (of which parts are preserved in the present structure), a new church was started in about 1255. This early gothic building wouldn't be completed until the early 14th century. The oldest part of the monastery is the so-called core of the administration buildings, which were probably built in 1209/10 as a hospital (later the residence of the abbot and the prior).
The spiritual and economic golden-age lasted until the middle of the 14th century. Through donations from the landed gentry, purchase and exchange the Abbey had numerous, widely scattered properties. With the help of a number of lay brothers, the Abbey ran a number of businesses. These included a vineyard on Lake Zurich and granges in Wollishofen and Zug. In the 15th Century the Abbey lost the use of most of these distant businesses, they were limited to products produced at the Abbey and a local dairy.
Due of the involvement of Walters IV von Eschenbach, all the Eschenbach possessions were confiscated by the Habsburgs in 1309. In 1339 they were all placed under the authority of the Lords of Hallwyl. Increasingly, it fell under Zurich's authority, and after 1473 the monastic economy was under the direct supervision of the Zurich City Council. In the Old Zurich War, the Swiss Confederation plundered the monastery, whose monks had fled to Zurich. In 1493, a fire damaged the convent building. In the early 16th century the Reformation was gradually introduced. In 1527 the monastery was abolished, and its property was taken over by the city of Zurich.
Following the Reformation the monastery became property of the Canton of Zurich. As of 1834 the buildings were used for social purposes. Since 1983, the cantonal Reformed church as a spiritual retreat. Today it houses a hotel.References:
Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.
The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.
In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.
Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.
About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.
Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.
A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.