Our tour on May 29 was to Göttweig Abbey, founded in the 11th century by Blessed Altmann, Bishop of Passau. Our cruise ship “Tor” docked at the small town of Krems, Austria, where we boarded a bus for the short ride to the abbey. To get a feel for this site, it is well to view the video produced by Viking River Cruises. An interview with the abbot, combined with video, describes the role that the abbey plays locally, with monks serving as parish priests, or in hospitals, or in producing wine and apricot products. We saw the abbot himself during our tour.
The abbey features a nectar made with pureed apricots. Each guest got a small serving of this before being escorted to a little theater where we were shown the video.
The abbey church was dedicated in 1072, and the abbey itself in 1083. Over the centuries the institution experienced a variety of changing fortunes, such as abandonment or fire. Most of the present buildings are the result of rebuilding after a fire that took place in 1718.
Reading is a big part of the discipline of the Benedictine monks. We just caught a glimpse of some of the works available to them. Thanks to James Roy of Martayan Lan (New York) for identifying this one from the photograph.
Our tour featured the Imperial Staircase, showing the close relationship of the early 18th century Benedictine abbot with the ruling Hapsburg dynasty of the day. A marvelous ceiling featuring a trompe-l’oeil gives the impression of a dome. The fresco itself is an apotheosis of Charles VI as Apollo, by Paul Troger, one of the most prominent painters of his time.
The Göttweig abbey Church of St Mary, begun in the 11th century, was expanded in the 15th century. It has baroque decoration over the altar depicting the Ascension of Mary.
We went to an apricot dumpling preparation and sampling when the main tour ended. These dumplings tasted as good as they look.
A wine tasting followed: there were Veltlliner, a Riesling, and a red (probably a Pinot); I do think they have a greater variety of white wines at Göttweig. There is a substantial shop and a magnificently situated restaurant with a clear view of the valley below. One of our fellow tourists took our picture with the valley in the background.
Before our trip, we had never heard of Göttweig Abbey. It is well organized for tours, in addition to being an active institution in Austria. It is worth the time to visit.