The Stift Göttweig is a Benedictine abbey with a breath-taking view of the Wachau valley and its surrounding landscapes. The monastery is located at the hill dominating the Danube valley, just opposite of the town Krems, in a small village Fürth. The viewing terrace of the abbey complex offers a far-reaching panoramic view of the Danube valley and the Wachau. Together with Krems and Melk abbey, it is included, as a part of the cultural landscape of the Wachau, in the list of UNESCO World Heritage.
The monastery was erected in the early 11th century. Like a lot of churches and monasteries in the Wachau valley, it had a turbulent history. It has changed many occupants - it was closed during the Reformation, it has been sieged and destroyed many times, and it was under the threat of Turkish siege. It was burnt in a fire, it was even a prisoner-of-war camp during the Second World War, and it was devastated after the war by the Soviet forces.
The last restoration of the monastery after the World War II took almost two decades. Today, the abbey lives again, and it has over 30 monks. The economic basis of the monastery is the forestry business, together with hunting, viticulture, tourism and to a lesser extent the agriculture.
The entire abbey complex is huge. The Abbey is surrounded by three corner towers. Even though four of them were planned, but the forth one was never been built. The most dominant building is a church, which is in its origin a Romanesque church from the 11th century. After the reconstruction of the façade, the 18th-century church got its baroque appearance. How big the abbey is, we can conclude by observing the on-going roof renovation project. It will take six years to replace 630 000 roof tiles, which corresponds to 100 full trucks of roof tiles.
The abbey also has a museum over three floors, which includes exhibitions about the history of the abbey and surrounding area, graphics, art and music collections. In order to reach the museum, you have to climb the “Kaiser staircase”, the biggest and the most beautiful baroque staircase in Austria. The graphic collections of the abbey with about 30 000 works is the second largest in Austria, after the Vienna Albertina. Most of the graphics are from the Baroque period with works of German, Dutch, Italian, French and English masters. The music archive of Göttweig Abbey is one of the largest and most important music collections in Austria. It comprises about 10 000 objects, including 5000 music manuscripts, 2500 music prints, 500 writings on the topic of music, more than 600 letters from musicians and music scholars, as well as textbooks, music magazines and historical musical instruments.
Special exhibitions are organised yearly in the museum. In the year 2018, two special exhibitions are on display. "Stift Göttweig burns - the Fateful year 1718" is about a huge fire that happened three hundred years ago, on 17 June 1718, which destroyed a large part of the monastery. The second special exhibition is “Luther in Göttweig“ about the reformation time in the abbey. Countless books and graphics of the Reformation are exposed here. Some of the books are part of the stock which was, during the Counter-Reformation, placed in the department of the "Forbidden Books" of the Abbey Library. The Abbey Library has grown steadily since the founding of the monastery, and it now has about 145 000 volumes. The focus of the works is Theology and Philosophy, as well as History.
History, art, spiritual enrichment or just good wines from the surrounding vineyards of Wachau valley are all good reasons to visit the abbey with the most beautiful view in Austria - Göttweig.
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