Monastaries of Styria - Part I
Part I: Admont - Lambrecht
Stift Admont (http://www.stiftadmont.at/) is the most famous monastery of Styria and is the oldest abbey of the county. It was founded through Archbishop Eberhard of Salzburg in 1074 and in parts funded by St. Hemma of Gurk. Eberhard was a political heavyweight of his days and friends with other politically active bishops Altmann and Adalbero, the founders of the monasteries of Göttweig and Lambach. During the power struggle between emperor and pope, Eberhard was banned from Salzburg for several years by pro-emperor nobility, of which Admont was only marginally affected.
The Benedictine abbey became a reformist centre after 1115, transcending the ideas of monastic life shaped by Cluny-Hirsau. Its influence on the cultural and spiritual life of monasteries at this time was significant. After 1120, a Benedictine nunnery, a school, a scriptorium and a hospital were founded. Abbot Heinrich II made the monastery a hotspot for culture and politics and served as an advisor to the Habsburg rulers.
The boom period of Admont lasted until the late 14th century. Times went difficult with the general decay of monasteries in Austria and the spread of reformation. In 1525, Admont was sacked and looted by plundering farmers. Over the course of the 17th century, the monastery recovered and most of the current buildings were either drastically refurbished or re-built in the mid-18th century in elaborate Baroque. This style was maintained in the re-construction that followed a major fire in 1865.
Today, visitors enjoy the beautiful church of Admont, the surrounding gardens and the museums of the abbey. Most importantly, however, is the famous library with extensive Baroque ornaments from 1776. It contains a stunning 130,000 volumes, more than 1100 manuscripts and a rich collection of medieval paintings. The adjacent museums of art (Kunsthistorisches Museum) and natural history (Naturhistorisches Museum, with Austria′s biggest insect collection) are more than just regionally important.
The Benedictine abbey of Stift Lambrecht (http://www.stift-stlambrecht.at/) was founded at some point before 1076 by the count of Carinthia, Markward of Eppenstein. The foundation was based on a church that can be traced back to 1066. In 1103, the still fairly new monastery was generously endowed by Heinrich, the son of Markward. In 1144, monks from Lambrecht founded Altenburg Abbey in Lower Austria and the church of pilgrimage Mariazell in 1157.
In the late Middle Ages, Lambrecht became an important centre for art and culture, particularly famous for its passion plays around Easter. Several fires in the 13th century damaged the monastery severely; in 1327 the Romanesque church was replaced by a Gothic one. In the early 15th century an associated palace was built by the monastery, which was left to decay after 1786.
Another fire hit Lambrecht hard in 1471. In the 16th century, mismanagement and reformist trouble caused the monastery to fade in terms of wealth and cultural significance. Only in the 17th century this trend was reversed and the monastery once again became a centre for the cultural life of the region. This second boom-period is reflected in the mighty Baroque buildings that were erected at this time. In 1786, Emperor Joseph II dissolved Lambrecht.
However, it was re-established under Emperor Franz II (of the Holy Roman Empire, the one that turned later into Franz I of Austria). The scale of this second foundation, however, was smaller than before the dissolution. Progress in the efforts to rebuild the abbey was s low and continued to be difficult well into the 20th century.
Today, Lambrecht is all nice and shiny again and attracts visitors that come to see the abbey′s church with a Romanesque core, Gothic extensions and mostly Baroque interiors. Other attractions include the main court, built by Domenico Sciassia with the cloisters, gardens, several halls with frescos and the monastery′s art collection.
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