Our monastery garden route - a journey to the self
We were on our way through our monastery garden route for three days Lower Austria. We visited five monastery gardens. We expected it to be a treat for the eyes and senses. But the trip had more surprises in store for us. Monasteries such as Melk and Klosterneuburg were on our itinerary Weinviertel at Vienna. Among them were also less known monasteries. These include Stift Seitenstetten in Mostviertel, Geras Abbey and Altenburg Monastery in Waldviertel.
Neither Petar nor I are particularly religious. Monasteries and monastic orders interested us in historical, cultural or art historical terms. In the gardens of these monasteries we searched for the traces left by the monks. We found these in excess. But we discovered even more. What makes this trip so special? I present that to you here.
The gardens of Klosterneuburg - at our Klostergarten Route in Lower Austria
The gardens of Klosterneuburg most closely corresponded to what we had expected from the gardens. Josef Bauer sen., The director of Klosterneuburg Stiftsgärten, guides us through his life's work. This he looks after his retirement with his son and his team.
Nice hotels near Klosterneuburg:
- Landhaus Fuhrgassl-Huber in Vienna, Neustift am Walde * Surrounded by wine taverns, mountains and greenery, the hotel is about 5,9 km away
- Derag Living Hotel Kaiser Franz Joseph Vienna in Vienna * In the vicinity of Heurigen in the Viennese district of Döbling lies the hotel about 6,3 km away
- Apartments Apartments42 in Klosterneuburg * These holiday apartments in Klosterneuburg are just 900 km from the monastery.
- Villa Angelina in Langenzersdorf * In a historic setting, you will spend the night in this villa, which is about 2,5 km from Klosterneuburg.
It was he who revived the gardens of the monastery. There is a Mannerist garden and a Renaissance garden. He shows us a courtyard, a medieval garden, a herb garden and a convent garden. There, the monks retire to find peace. In the midst of roses they can meditate and pray. Bauer deepened over decades in drawings and paintings as well as in records in the monastery archives. He then got an overview of how the monks once used and beautified inner courtyards, niches and open spaces.
Medieval plants on our monastery garden route
He went in search of plants of which there aren't many today. So he planted a collection of historical roses in his convent garden. There is even a mandrake in his medieval garden. There are legends about this plant. Healing powers were ascribed to it in the Middle Ages. Enjoying them could also be fatal if you took too much of it. A sign on the plant in the medieval garden in Klosterneuburg warns against touching the plant.
Klosterneuburg Gardens - on our Klostergarten Route in Lower Austria
The gardens of Klosterneuburg are not always accessible. However, there are events throughout the year. Then visitors can see the monastery gardens. Current information can be found on the Website of Stift Klosterneuburg.
Garden of Encounter in Stift Seitenstetten
We drive about an hour and a half from Klosterneuburg to the Stift Seitenstetten im Mostviertel, There awaits us another garden experience. The abbey houses a private school. It is also known for the Hofgarten. This extends below the Meierhof and offers visitors theme gardens. The most striking of these is the baroque garden. In its center, water splashes out of a fountain surrounded by grassy areas that represent the elements of water, fire, earth and air.
Behind it is a rose garden, whose climbing roses lush overgrow the arches and gates of metal and wood. Part of the 110 shrub and climbing roses was donated by a mother whose son was educated in the collegiate school. A rosary labyrinth at the end of the garden of bookballs and roses offers visitors a place of silence. The courtyard garden of Stift Seitenstetten is also a teaching garden.
This is most evident in the vegetable and herb garden. From this the pen-kitchen, as ever, gets vegetables, herbs and berries. In addition, potatoes play a role. The monastery was one of the first places in Austria where the tuber from America was planted.
Seitenstettner garden days
We are guests at the Seitenstettner garden days. These will take place in June. An example of the fact that the Hofgarten is also a meeting place. During normal weekends, visitors can relax on sun loungers in the holiday garden. You can watch the bees in hammocks as they gather nectar from the flowering plants. On the garden days, however, the grass is occupied by artists, artisans and garden specialists. These offer their works and goods to the visitors.
P. Ferdinand Ilk is too much excitement. Our companion keeps pointing out to us what we should think away. But I like this mix of art, crafts and flower assortment. She brings the garden to life and establishes a connection between monastic life and the modern world.
Kloster Seitenstetten is located on our monastery garden route
We use the time for a tour of the monastery and its interiors. Here we see the collegiate church, the marble hall and the library with the frescoes by Paul Troger. Also worth seeing are the Matura Room and the abbey with the fresco by Bartolomeo Altomonte.
The Hofgarten of Stift Seitenstetten is open to the public. Further information about the Hofgarten and the monastery can be found on the Website of Stift Seitenstetten.
Baroque gardens in Melk Abbey - at our Klostergarten Route in Lower Austria
The most beautiful are the gardens in Melk Abbey on the northern edge of the Wachau on our trip. They are worthy of a world cultural heritage. This includes the monastery and its buildings. However, we ignore this during our visit. Instead, we are interested in the gardens. These have been revitalized since 2000 after the Lower Austrian State Exhibition. Until then, the site had been fallow since the Second World War.
Monastery and gardens
We meet Michaela Romako. She leads us through the gardens of the monastery. She explains: “The garden architects recognized that the garden area is the same size as the monastery complex. If you take the Babenberg tower as a division and fold the parts on top of each other, the lantern of the collegiate dome hits the baroque water basin in the park. There is a relationship between the monastery and the gardens. ”We follow her through the garden to the garden pavilion. To the left we see the Cabinet clairvoyée. From here we look down into the Danube Valley and the monastery building on the rock.
Melk on the Danube - at our Klostergarten Route in Lower Austria
Through an avenue we go behind the pavilion to the other half of the garden. We enjoy the view of the Danube and the Wachau, Here we leave the baroque garden. Instead, we enter a forest whose temperatures are welcome on this early summer day. Several paths lead through this forest. The feeling of being here in a special forest is enhanced by choral singing that comes from a loudspeaker.
Hotels to feel good in the surroundings of Melk Abbey:
- Baroque Landhof Burkhardt in Spitz in the Wachau * Here you stay in a house only 350 m away from the bank of the Danube. Melk Abbey is located 16,4 km away.
- Donaubaum Winery "In der Spitz" * The winery is surrounded by vineyards behind the thousands of bucket in Spitz, only 300 m from the Danube. After Melk it's 15,8 km.
- Renaissance Hotel Raffelsberger Hof B&B * The Renaissancehotel Raffelsberger Hof is an 1574-built captain's house and is located in the center of Weißenkirchen in the Wachau. After Melk you drive 21,4 km.
- Hotel Schloss Dürnstein * The 1630 hotel combines the atmosphere of a castle with the comfort of a five-star hotel. Melk is located 23,4 km away.
As we approach the cliff over the Danube, I suddenly hear a confusion of bird calls. This is interrupted by the rattling of helicopter rotors. Although I try to spot the helicopter through the trees, it remains hidden. “This is part of Katharina Gruzei's art installation. With this sound installation she brings the background noise of the rainforest into the monastery park, ”explains Michaela. “The helicopter is the tourist's vehicle there. The noise tells us how much our view of nature is shaped by progress. "
Easy access to Stift Melk from your hotel in Vienna:
Melk Abbey is also easily accessible by car or public transport, eg from Vienna, Salzburg or Linz. It is more comfortable
- familiar with the private tour from Vienna * with pick up from the hotel. The tour goes to Melk, Hallstatt and Salzburg and can be flexibly designed.
Art in the Park - at our Klostergarten Route in Lower Austria
Art is omnipresent in the Melk Abbey Park. This year, the motto is: Points of Passage. A place of transition. Nine artists play on the abbey area. They give their interpretations on the topics of migration, being alien, being different and exclusion. In the pool, Christian Philipp Müller depicts “The New World” using plants that once came to Europe from there.
Bernhard Hosa shows with his Dead Doors in the Jardin Méditerranéen how difficult it is to find one's way abroad. We discover art installations in the monastery park. These include “The Ravens - Landed in the Abbey Garden” by Ingrid Kralovec. Their ravens are similar to the monks of the abbey.
Garden pavilion of Melk
We end our visit to the Melk Abbey Garden with a visit to the garden pavilion. Its murals also take up the theme of "strangers". The artists let their imaginations run wild. The rabbit who looks at us from a corner of the room is more reminiscent of a person with too long ears. The ostriches look strange with their grimaces. And people are hard to assign to continents.
Here the monks were able to recover at the meal. There were game tables for relaxation. In general, the life of the monks in this place does not seem to have been so relentless as we learn elsewhere.
At the herb parson in Stift Geras
The herb garden in the Geras Abbey in the Waldviertel is completely different. The pen is located in the Waldviertel. This region is higher than the monasteries that we have come to know so far. Geras is close to the Czech border. To this day, one has the impression of being at the end of the world.
Nice hotels near and in Geras:
- Schüttkasten Waldviertel and Art & Culture Seminar Hotel Geras * From the hotel to the town center it is only 400 m.
- Hotel Althof Retz * This was once the castle from which the city originated. Today, tradition and modernity merge here. 20,8 km to Geras.
- Holiday house Thayahof * Apartments with garden in the courtyard. 24,8 km to Geras.
- La Pura Women's Health Resort Kamptal * Exclusively for women. With 2.100 m² you will find a wellness area here. 22,3 km to Geras.
Here we meet Father Benedikt Felsinger. He is known in Austria as a herb pastor. He blogs about his passion, growing herbs. He also writes a column about it in one of the country's daily newspapers. Father Felsinger was former Prior of Stift Geras. As such, he looked after parishes. Meanwhile, he focuses on the herb garden. He gives lectures on the healing properties of herbs and studies their effects in the archives of the monastery.
Father Benedikt Felsinger
Father Benedikt impressed us above all by his calm. Weaknesses are just as familiar to him, he says: “There is nothing worse than the saying 'main thing' healthy '. There is no one who spends his life without problems. Only what challenges us makes us strong. "
For him, his herbs are more than remedies that are used in the event of illness. "The question: 'What is this good for?' reduces the plant to one of its aspects. Instead, you have to ask, 'How can you help me?' So you put the plant in a context. You can also see the beauty of the plant. The strength that sits in their stems. The color in her flowers, as well as the fragrance she spreads. Because a plant can cure more than just a disease. "
Orthodox chapel in the monastery Geras
After our tour of his herb garden, he finally shows us a chapel with an iconostasis. “One of our fathers has permission to hold biritual masses. He does that when guests from Orthodox countries come to our monastery, ”he explains.
Art and culture in Geras
In the Schütthaus of the monastery is the main building of the art and culture seminar hotel Geras. The Vierjahreszeiten Retreat Geras is located in the Vierkanthof. There we spend two nights. With herbal drinks with water, cinnamon, cardamom, stinging nettle, sage and lemon juice in the evening memories awake to our visit to the herb parson. Let's have a peasant duck with potato dumplings or a vegetable stroganoff for lunch.
details Information about Stift Geras you can find here.
Jewel of the baroque and gothic in Altenburg Abbey
We came to Altenburg Abbey to look at the Garden of Religions and the Garden of Silence. These are two of the gardens of this monastery. The Garden of Religions is dedicated to world religions. Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Islam are the focus here. Connections to these religions are made in cultivated areas. This is done using plants, water, shapes and elements.
In addition to the hotels in Geras, these hotels are perfect for a trip to Altenburg Abbey:
- Vierzigerhof in Langenlois * Here you can stay in a hotel with a courtyard with arcades. Distance to Stift Altenburg: 29,2 km.
- Wine house Nigl in Senftenberg * Stay in a winery surrounded by vineyards here. After Altenburg it is 36 km.
- LOISIUM Wine & Spa Resort Langenlois * This spa hotel is surrounded by vineyards. Distance to Stift Altenburg 29,1 km.
The Garden of Silence is located at the back of the monastery below the baroque building. This rises on a rock above the Kamptal. I'm taking my breath away from the lavender bushes in front of the monastery entrance. The blue of the lavender harmonizes with its baroque façade. What a sight!
Monastery of Altenburg
Stift Altenburg is waiting with a surprise. Here you have the remains of the monastery complex of Altenburg exposed from the Middle Ages. This was under the Baroque building. Over the centuries it had been piled up. Only investigations by structural engineers made a restoration indispensable. Otherwise the baroque pencil would be in danger.
Middle Ages, Gothic, Baroque
Therefore, the monks decided to excavate. These brought to light the remains of the monastery from the Gothic period. This was founded in 1144. This brought indications of monastic life to light. These show how people once lived in this monastery. The St. Vitus Chapel is worth seeing. This cannot be seen from the outside. Instead, it is hidden behind the baroque facade. There you will also find the crypt with its frescoes, the library and the collegiate church. This monastery near the border with the Czech Republic is a gem of baroque art. It is also a masterpiece of archeology and architecture. Because they have brought this church to light again in the church.
Information about Altenburg Abbey can be found here www.stift-altenburg.at
Journey to the monastery gardens in Lower Austria
In any case, it was extraordinary, our trip to the monastery gardens in Lower Austria. It did not correspond to what we usually experience on our travels. The encounters we had on the road were with people who had arrived. They knew what was important to them in life. I especially noticed that many of them radiate an inner peace. This affected us in the itinerary also on us. In general, we found time on this trip to let the gardens and their surroundings affect us. You should absolutely take this leisure time when planning a trip of this kind. For me it was like a journey into the self. Especially those moments gave me time to think a little about life and what we do.
Do not forget during a trip on the Klostergarten Route:
- A backpack, in which you can store your utensils and a Jacket can accommodate.
- sun hatwhen the sun is shining outside.
- A Sunglasses with UV filter *, The sun can shine intensely in the monastic gardens.
- Your Photo camera, because there's a lot to photograph on the way.
- A Solar Battery *, Nothing is more annoying than when the camera or the phone stops working.
In the monastery gardens of Stift Klosterneuburg we went back in history. We were accompanied by the man who revived them. In Stift Seitstetten we met a monastery, which opens to the people. In Melk Abbey, I remember the Benedictus Trail, the sounds from the rainforest and the view out into the Danube Valley. In Geras Abbey, I can still smell the herbs that brought us to herbal minister Benedikt Felsinger. Altenburg Monastery retains the impression of a journey through time from Baroque to Gothic. This could hardly have been more impressive. But one thing I take away from all these monasteries. A reflection on the essential for the life we lead. In addition, we discovered a quiet that you have to go to the monastery to experience.
Arrival to Vienna:
Stift Klosterneuburg - Stift Seitenstetten - Stift Melk - Stift Geras - Stift Altenburg
By the way: Do you already know the monastery garden from Admont Abbey?
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With this article we participate in the Europablogparade from Trip to the Planet, There are travel tips for Europe. Check it out.
Source: Research on site. We would like to thank Klösterreich for inviting us to this trip. Our opinion remains our own.
Text: © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline
Photos: © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline