The one hour drive to the Benedictine monastery of Admont is definitely worth it! The journey through the stunning landscape of the Styrian Gesäuse Mountains builds anticipation for this place full of Christian spirituality and cultural discovery. But even non-believers and "philistines" will be impressed by this original example of Alpine Baroque architecture.
We spent a whole, fascinating day on this excursion and put together a list of the 10 most beautiful spots at this 11th century monastery.
1. The world's largest monastic library:
The Admont Abbey library is one of the greatest works of European Baroque style art, and was even noted recently as one of the most beautiful places in the world by the American TV network CNN. We were most impressed by the dome fresco in the hall of the world's largest monastic library and the countless bookshelves with approximately 70,000 volumes. There are secret staircases hidden here somewhere. Access is also barrier-free here.
2. The Abbey Church:
The church, rebuilt and consecrated in 1869 after the original was destroyed in a fire, is one of the largest Gothic sacred buildings in Austria. It was inspired by the Regensburg Cathedral, with its two 70-metre towers. The interior is divided into a three naves with five chapels and six altars. Impressive!
3. Manuscript Room:
Today, the Admont Abbey holds approximately 1,400 priceless manuscripts, of which more than half are from the Middle Ages. The number of books printed before the year 1500 amounts to 530 volumes. Slightly more than 400 volumes represent the period between 1501 and 1520. Today they're in climate-controlled security vaults.
4. Art History Museum:
The historical art collection includes significant exhibits from the Romanesque to the Rococo: paintings, sculptures, textiles, and many other objects from the art vaults of Admont Abbey. Impressively large showcases display an annually changing selection of objects, from resplendent vestments to pens. Each piece is priceless and of the highest quality!
5. Natural History Museum:
This museum beats all records. Have you ever seen 252,000 insects, 50,000 moths and butterflies, and numerous reptiles and amphibians in one place? In this newly restored museum, opened in 2004, you can!
6. Museum of Contemporary Art:
Since 1997, the abbey has also been building a collection of contemporary art. This includes over 1,500 individual works by about 180 different artists, mostly from the middle of the 20th century and either born in Austria or working there. So you can also live in the here and now.
7. Multimedia Presentation of the Pen:
Here's a successful combination of traditional, old buildings and modern technology. In this new museum composed of three separate rooms, you'll be exposed to innovative media techniques that tell about the life of Saint Benedict and the history of the pen.
8. Special Exhibition 2016: "Zum Fressen gern" ("Could just eat it up")
Bookworm alert in the monastery library! The small worms chowed down on the precious collection and the artifacts had to be examined, cleaned, and restored book by book. This special exhibition is devoted to this complex task. Impressive and a delightful.
9. Panoramic Staircase:
The "Panoramastiege " is a concrete staircase wrapped in a glass-steel construction on the east wing of the museum. It was built as a spectacular vantage point on the side of the museum in 2003. Going up three floors, is offers an incredible view all the way to Gesäuse National Park, even in bad weather. Here, you always feel like you're in middle of the action. This was our favorite place!
10. Outdoor Landscape:
At each monastery, you'll find a wonderful outdoor area. There's a lot to discover here, like the herb garden or the literary path, among other sights. Our Tip: check out the "invisible" garden - a tactile, olfactory, and hearing experience.