Monastaries of Carinthia - Part I

The former monastery of Maria Wörth in Carinthia is the most popular monastic site in the province

Part I: Stift Millstatt - Stift Ossiach - Stift Maria Wörth

Part II: Stift Maria Saal - Stift Viktring

Part III: Stift St. Paul - Stift Gurk

Stift Millstatt

The ancient monastery of Millstatt  ( was founded as a Benedictine monastery in 1086. It had a nunnery until 1455. In the 12th century, it was famous for its scriptorium that created fine manuscripts. But as early as in 1287, the Archbishop of Salzburg - who was responsible for Millstatt - had to release sanctions against the monastery that had a reputation for low moral standards and general anarchy. As a result, the monastery was re-structured and rebuilt in 1291.

Things did not change for the good and towards the end of the 14th century, another investigation followed. The monastery was eventually dissolved by Emperor Friedrich III in 1469. He gave the possessions of the monastery to the knight′s order of St. George. In 1598, Millstatt was given to Jesuits.

Under Emperor Joseph II′s moves against the Jesuits, it became a public property in 1773. The cloisters and the courts are used as a hotel today and can be visited. The Romanesque church is now used as a parish church. There are many stone carvings and masonry work in the Romanesque parts of the buildings with displays of animals and biblical motives.

Stift Ossiach in Southern Carinthia

Ossiach ( was founded under King Otto III and is considered to be the oldest abbey of Carinthia. According to legend, the Polish king Boleslaus II died here after hiding in the monastery unrecognised as an anonymous frater. His tomb is in the church. In 1279, the small abbey went under the rule of Salzburg. It survived the reformation, but was sacked by Turkish troops repeatedly. It was refurbished in Baroque style, but was in economic trouble by the 18th century.

Under Emperor Joseph II, the monastery was dissolved in 1783. The library was partly destroyed, most of the books, however, went to Graz University. The church became a parish church (which it still is) and the abbey partly destructed. In the 19th century, it was used as an army base, stable and homeless shelter. Today, it holds a hotel and is the site of the festival "Carinthischer Sommer".

Stift Maria Wörth on a peninsula

Not far from Ossiach, you will find Carinthia′s most famous collegiate convent: Maria Wörth ( is not used anymore, but a popular tourist destination due to its scenic location on a peninsula in Lake Wörther See. It was started by the Bishop of Freising in the late 9th century to compete with the missionary activities of Salzburg. It later received generous endowments and a collegiate convent was founded on this site that had probably been a religious site ever since pagan times in 1150.

In the late Middle Ages, the convent was sacked repeatedly by several local noblemen, but it defended the peninsula successfully against Turkish troops in 1478. In 1529, the St. George knight order from Millstatt received the convent and its possessions. After the dissolution of the order under Emperor Joseph II, the buildings including the church were used by the local parishes. Parts of Maria Wörth were given to the Benedictine abbey of St. Paul in Lavanttal in 1809. The pretty church with its Romanesque-Gothic cemetery is famous, but like all of the Wörther See region, it can be quite crowded in the summer.

Go to: Part I - Part II - Part III

All Monasteries by Province

Monasteries of Vorarlberg & Tyrol
Monasteries of Salzburg
Monasteries of Upper Austria
Monasteries of Lower Austria & Vienna
Monasteries of Carinthia
Monasteries of Styria

Further Reading

Introduction to the Monasteries of Austria

Wikipedia's list of Austrian Monasteries


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