Discovering Art and History at Göttweig Abbey


| 12/22/2016 10:00:00 AM


Tags: Marilyn Jones, Texas, Austria, Christmas, abbey, monastary, Christmas Market, Viking Cruises,

Marilyn JonesOn a cold windswept day, I visited Göttweig Abbey with fellow Viking River Cruises passengers as part of the Danube Christmas Market Cruise. Founded in Austria as a monastery and dedicated in 1072 AD, its presence atop a hill overlooking the river was a dramatic scene as the tour bus approached.

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We gathered with our guide, and he began his narrative as soon as we exited the bus. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, Göttweig became a famous seat of learning with strict monastic observances almost immediately. A school, library, and nunnery were established. The nunnery continued until 1557.

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As we walked our guide — a young man with excellent English and an enthusiastic way of communicating the abbey’s storied past — explained that today 42 monks live and work here as well as in nearby parishes. He told us that during the 15th and 16th centuries the abbey declined, and that in 1564 not a single monk was left. Michael Herrlich was appointed abbot and restored the monastery spiritually and financially; he rebuilt it after it had been almost entirely destroyed by fire in 1580. In 1718, the monastery again fell victim to fire and was rebuilt on an even grander scale.

The abbey is certainly a survivor.




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