On our return from the day trip this summer to Burgruine Aggstein we spied this imposing structure, and I did not hesitate to add it to my ever-expanding list of places to explore. This week I took advantage of a beautiful but breezy day to head out; the abbey is just under an hours’ drive from the house, making it an easy-peasy trip that allowed me time to collect the children from cross-country practice at the end of the day, as well.
Göttweig Abbey is a Benedictine monastery that has been in one form or another at this spot since 1083. The original structure declined over the 15th and 16th centuries, and a couple of fires meant the monastery had to be rebuilt. This last iteration, built under Abbot Gottfried, was considered so lavish that he was nearly deposed because of it.
There is a conveniently-placed viewing point on the drive up to the abbey; only when you are at the top, though, do you realize how expansive the grounds are.
The view from the top is pretty impressive, too. The Wachau Valley and its castles (Burgruine Aggstein and Durnstein), palaces (Schloss Schallaburg), ancient monasteries (Melk Abbey is nearby) and vineyard culture is a designated UNESCO World Cultural Landscape.
The Abbey church. Although it appears I was one of few visitors, I was actually maneuvering to stay ahead of the three busloads of tourists being shepherded through their tours.
Within the Kaiser’s Museum is the Emperor’s Staircase, considered to be one of the most monumental staircases in the whole of Europe. Adorning the ceiling is a stunning Baroque fresco, depicting the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI as Apollo.
The museum also contains the monastery archives, religious engravings, coins, and antiquities that were spared from damage during WWII. A little uninteresting to me, but the views from the various rooms more than made up for it.
Having successfully outmaneuvered the tourists, I was able to enjoy a pleasant small bite of kurbiscremesuppe (pumpkin creme soup) and a glass of Sturm before returning to Vienna.