Monasteries of Upper Austria - Part I

Until its dissolution in the 18th century, Stift Mondsee was the oldest monastery of Austria

Part I: Mondsee - Traunkirchen - Reichersberg - Lambach

Part II: Engelhartszell - Schlägel - Wilhering

Part III: Kremsmünster - Schlierbach  - St. Florian

Stift Mondsee in Upper Austria

The monastery of Mondsee ( was the third-oldest of the country after St. Peter and Nonnberg: Founded in 748, this Benedictine abbey failed to proof its "usefulness" in schooling or other fields and was closed down in 1791. The average tourist goes to Mondsee to see the scenic Salzkammergut town and the church in which "Fräulein Maria" became "Mrs. von Trapp" in "The Sound of Music".

Few realise that this very church belonged to an ancient monastery. The two Baroque towers and fašade of the church distract from the fact that the interiors form the biggest Gothic church of Upper Austria. The so-called "Mondsee Castle" is in fact the former main court of the monastery. The Gothic library hall in the Benedict Chapel hosts a town museum - until 1791, it held one of the biggest monastic libraries of Austria.

Stift Traunkirchen in the Salzkammergut

The former Benedictine nunnery of Traunkirchen ( was founded in the early 11th century on a scenic peninsula by Lake Traunsee. There are speculations that it was founded on the site of a former pagan sacred site. In 1632, a fire destroyed parts of the nunnery and extensive re-building took place in Baroque style. Interiors of the church date back to 1754. By then the nunnery was abandoned and served as a residence for Jesuits from the mid-17th century for the next 150 years.

Since Emperor Joseph II was no big fan of Jesuits and prohibited the order, Stift Traunkirchen stopped being a monastery. Today, the courts are used for secular purposes, but the cemetery and church are still maintained. The interiors of the church, the cemetery and the scenic location on the peninsula made the former monastery a popular motive for Austrian romantic painters. The Biedermeier writer Adalbert Stifter wrote poetry at and about the place.

Stift Reichersberg in Upper Austria

The Augustian Stift Reichersberg ( south-west of the Baroque town of Schärding was founded in 1084. For most of its history, the monastery was directly dependent from Salzburg. After a devastating fire in 1624, it got the Baroque face that it still has today. Recent renovations made the small Stift a little gem that is worth being seen. Culturally and economically, Reichersberg has always had only local significance, but in combination with the Inn River region, the small town around the monastery and the extensive library with 55,000 volumes, Reichersberg makes a great "inside" destination.

Stift Lambach in Upper Austria

One of the more important monasteries of Austria, the Benedictine monastery of Lambach ( was founded as a convent in 1040 by Count Arnold II. Bishop Adalbero, on the way to becoming a saint, made it a monastery in 1056, and Benedictine monks moved to Lambach from Münsterschwarzach. In collaboration with Bishop Altmann, Lambach founded Stift Melk abbey in 1089. In 1233, the monastery was destroyed by the Bavarian duke Otto.

Later Lambach got the right to tax the salt trade on the River Inn. In the 15th century, the abbot got the privilege of wearing "pontificalia" (Episcopal symbols). Didn′t help much: In the 16th century, Lambach′s importance faded and in 1626 and 1632 (during the Thirty Years′ War), it was plundered and destroyed by looting farmers.

Only after the end of the war, the monastery was re-built between 1640 and 1678, the period in which most of today′s monastery was constructed. Towards the end of the 17th century, the fortifications of Lambach were demolished and refurbishment took place between 1705 and 1725. During the Napoleonic Wars, Lambach was seriously damaged, but today is all nice and shiny.

It is famous for frescos from around 1100, its general prettiness and the only Baroque school theatre that is still preserved - originally in use in the 18th century. It also holds the relics of St. Adalbero, the founder of the monastery who had an interesting life full of politics regarding monastic reformation in the 11th and 12th century (if you liked "The Name of the Rose", you might look into St Adalbero′s moved life).

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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