Monasteries of Vorarlberg & Tyrol
Mehrerau in Vorarlberg
Stift Mehrerau (http://www.mehrerau.at/) is a former Benedictine abbey that is now a Cistercian monastery. It is located near Vorarlberg′s capital Bregenz and a modern school and sanatorium. Not necessarily among Austria′s famous monasteries, Mehrerau has some interesting artworks from the 19th century, a collection of altar paintings from the 15th to 18th century and an extensive library that includes approximately 90,000 volumes. It is also known for the modern fašade of the Monastery Church from 1964. Legend has it that Mehrerau was founded in the 7th century by St. Kolumban.
Stift Mariastern in Vorarlberg
This Cistercian nunnery of Mariastern (http://www.mariastern-gwiggen.at/) was founded by Swiss nuns between 1856 and 1869. It is a tiny convent that doesn′t offer an awful lot of sights, but the neo-Romanesque Nunnery Church is open for visitors. It is located north of Vorarlberg′s capital Bregenz.
Stift Stams in Tyrol
Stift Stams (http://www.stiftstams.at/) is Tyrol′s most Western monastery, not far from the capital Innsbruck. It was founded in 1273 and meant to be the burial site for the counts of Tyrol and a tomb for the last Sicilian king from the house of Staufer, Konradin. It has an impressive church ("Mariä Himmelfahrt") in Baroque style from 1609, which was refurbished in 1732. The interiors are from that year, too, late Baroque with frescos on the ceiling and elaborate stucco works.
The "Prince′s Rooms" are state apartments with a wooden ceiling and interesting interiors. The monastery′s library holds 60,000 volumes. Main attractions are the altar of the church and the general impression of the site - enhanced by the scenic surroundings of the nearby Alps. Recently, Stams has become known as the "Ski Monastery".
Stift Wilten in Innsbruck, Tyrol
The "national" monastery of Tyrol, Stift Wilten (http://www.stift-wilten.at/), is located directly in Innsbruck. However, it is centuries older than the city - according to legend, it was founded between the ruins of the Roman fort Veldidena (plausible) by the giant Haymo (not so plausible). It is a Premontratensian monastery and can be traced back at least to the 9th century.
After some serious damages to the buildings, the monastery was re-furbished and modernised between 1670 and 1696 in Baroque style. It was severely damaged in World War II. Stop by to have a look at the church, dedicated to St. Laurentius. In the antechapel you can see a gothic statue of Haymo the giant. Otherwise, look at the arrangement of the Baroque pillars, stucco work and frescos in the church.
Stift Fiecht - St. Georgenberg in Tyrol
The abbey of St. Georgenberg - Fiecht (http://www.st-georgenberg.at/) was founded around 950 and turned Benedictine in 1138. The buildings consist of a plain court with a Baroque church from 1705. The monastery was destroyed by avalanches repeatedly and eventually the monks transferred to another site in the valley. Over the course of the Napoleonic wars, the monastery was plundered, later extinguished during the Nazi period.
By 1945, it was almost completely destroyed. In that sense, it is a miracle that there are things of interest at all: The site itself is scenic with the Tyrolian Alps in the background; the church and the court were refurbished after 1953, when the monastery was returned to the Benedictines. Today, it holds a library for 20,000 volumes and the altar and some other interiors of the refurbished church are of interest for visitors. Stift Fiecht is the smallest monastery of Austria.