Monasteries of Upper Austria
Part II: Engelhartszell - Schlägel - Wilhering
Stift Engelhartszell in the North of Upper Austria
The only Trappist monastery of Austria, Engelhartszell (http://www.stift-engelhartszell.at/) lies in the north of Upper Austria, in a remote area south-east of Passau just by the Danube. It was founded in 1293 as a Cistercian monastery in a region that was subject of controversial claims: The powerful bishop of Passau claimed it as much as most of his neighbours. Eventually, the monastery was founded to make it "neutral" territory and cultivate the region. The plan worked: The area around Engelhartszell is perfectly peaceful (=boring) to the day. It is also really pretty: Especially the Rococo church from 1763.
Stift Schlägel, Upper Austria′s most northern monastery
In the very north of Upper Austria, just by the boarder to the Czech Republic, you will find Stift Schlägel (http://www.stift-schlaegl.at/). The monastery was first founded in 1209 as a Cistercian institution, but re-founded in 1218 for Premonstratensians. It continuously grew, but was devastated twice in the course of the Hus-wars and other reformist struggles in the 15th and 16th century. The monastery was re-built between 1589 to 1608, only to get sacked again during the Thirty Years′ War in 1626.
Once again, Schlägel was re-built and got the face you can see today. Attractions are the Baroque interiors of the church, a Romanesque crypt, and a 19th century library that holds some 70,000 volumes. Stift Schlägel is the biggest "company" in the Upper Mühlviertel (the region where it is located). That tells you at least as much about the monastery as it does tell you about the Mühlviertel.
Stift Wilhering near Linz
The Cistercian abbey of Wilhering (http://www.stiftwilhering.at/) just west of the capital Linz was founded in 1146 to support mission work and cultivating the lands around the Danube. Typical for a monastery in the region, it bloomed in the later Middle Ages and messed things up after 1500: Wilhering lost much of its economic confidence and the moral standards dropped. Around 1600, the monastery recovered. In 1733, it burnt down due to arson by a maid.
The church and abbot′s house were re-built until 1751. In 1895, a school was founded by the monastery that continues until today. In the 1970ies, the famous Rococo church was refurbished and its rich frescos and stucco work make it an attractive destination - although the church is the only part of the monastery that is open for visitors.
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