Exploring Rein Abbey and Maria Strassengel Pilgrimage Church near Graz, Styria.

It’s many years already that my friends and fellow travel bloggers have been visiting the monasteries, abbeys and convents of the Austrian association “Klösterreich”, whose goal is to promote monastic products and offers for tourism. We have, for instance, learned more about the healing arts of “TEM” (Traditional European Medicine) off a religious order of nuns in Upper Austria, or been invited to see how monastic life and modern media, including a television studio, can go together at Heiligenkreuz Abbey. Many times, we have also spent the night at a “Klösterreich” monastery, as most of them offer this kind of spiritual retreat through guest houses. I still remember quite vividly all the conversations we’ve had with monks, nuns and abbots, who have often surprised us with their openness and intriguing world visions. The same is true for our most recent outing, this time to the Abbey of Rein, near the city of Graz in Styria in the south of Austria. What’s particular about this day trip, is that I could also bring my little son, just over a year old, and still make it a worthwhile day for all of us.


Visiting Rein Abbey comes with almost 1000 years of history, an excellent gastronomic offer as well as several options for hiking and walking – also or even as a young family.

Ever since Liam has been born, I must admit to checking each day trip or holiday option also from his point of view: Will he like it? Are there options provided for (young) kids? Stroller-friendly trails and pathways? A lawn or playground perhaps? Definitely, he’s been impressed by the sheer sight of the huge buildings of the abbey (including the loud bell tolling from the church tower!), the colours of the church and facades, as well as the friendly reception we’ve had from staff and monks alike. I do agree with him, and can also tell you that Rein Abbey is the oldest Cistercian monastery in the world that has continuously had a community of monks living in it. It was founded in 1129, and all of the abbey church’s delicate interior has been made by Styrian artists, which is a remarkable achievement. Today, efforts are towards preparing for the 900-year-anniversary coming up in 2029, efforts that still see an entire inner courtyard being restored to its former glory. It’s Father August Janisch who is our host for the day, and who clearly enjoys guiding us around Rein Abbey. Check this out.

Der Blick auf die Stiftsanlage des Stift Rein nahe Graz in der Steiermark beeindruckt schon von weitem.

The view towards the buildings at Rein Abbey is impressive even at a distance …


... ebenso die gewaltige Stiftskirche inmitten des mächtigen Innenhofes.

… and upon arrival, we behold this lovely sight: The abbey church rising in front of us inside the inner courtyard.


Ebendiese Kirche ...

This very church …


... offenbart uns Pater August als ein Kunstwerk der barocken Handwerkskunst ...

… is like a monument to the skills of the Styrian craftspeople, as Father August Janisch does not tire to tell us …


... hier betreten wir einen Raum, der die Gebeine des Stifters von Stift Rein, des Markgrafen Leopold offenbart ...

… here, we enter a room that offers a look upon the remains of the founder of the abbey, and “Father of Styria”, Duke Leopold …


... und gelangen über das Chorgestühl ...

… after which we continue crossing the impressive wooden choir …


... in einen meiner Lieblingsräume des Stiftes, die Stiftsbibliothek. Hier gibt es gar die Möglichkeit, "Reiner Buch Pate" zu werden, sprich für ein altehrwürdiges Buch oder Manuskript die Patenschaft zu übernehmen!

… into one of my personal highlights of the tour, the abbey library. As a book worm, I immediately take to precious old libraries such as this one, and you can even apply to become a godparent to some of its books: https://www.stift-rein.at/Patenschaften/Buecher-Paten.


Vielen Dank für die aufschlussreiche und wahrlich interessante Stiftsführung, Pater August!

Thank you so much, Father August, for taking the time to guide us around Rein Abbey!


Just outside the main abbey buildings, we find a restaurant, a playground, as well as several options for a short walk or hike.

Liam, at only 13 months old, has a very healthy appetite and literally devours everything that you put in front of him. I make use of this trend while it lasts and order him a healthy local fish meal, including potatoes and vegetables. It’s something I would have liked to eat myself, and all meals we share here are really good. While we eat, my mum uses the playground to take care of Liam, and thus gives me some time to relax. After lunch, it’s only a ten minute walk to reach the entrance to a lush green valley full of forest trails for walking and hiking, perfect for stretching your legs a bit. It all belongs to Rein Abbey, and even includes a short trail for barefoot walking! Liam would love that, if only he could walk already!

Mahlzeit in der Stiftstaverne von Stift Rein: Dieses Gericht hat sich auch der Jüngste in unserer Runde schon schmecken lassen.

Enjoy your meal: Lunch at the so-called “Stiftstaverne” restaurant in Rein, with Liam’s meal in full view.


Während Oma und Enkelsohn auf dem Spielplatz weilen, hat die Mama Zeit für ein entspanntes Mittagessen.!

And while my mum enjoys “hanging out” with Liam at the nearby playground, I enjoy a quiet lunch for a change!


Etwas weiter weg lockt die das Stift umgebende Natur zu einem ausgedehnten Spaziergang ...

A little further afield, you may enter these forest trails at your leisure …


... der Einstieg zum Barfussweg führt durch ein sanft plätscherndes Bächlein!

… including a short barefoot trail that even leads into a small stream bed!


Blick "in die Runde": Unterwegs in und rund um Stift Rein mit meiner Wenigkeit,

Our travel group that day (from left to right): Myself, Petar Fuchs (TravelWordOnline), Father Martin Höfler of Rein Abbey (in his walking clothes!), Monika Fuchs (TravelWorldOnline), Ingrid Zalneva (TravelPotPourri), Sissi Munz (TravelBlogContinent), Meike Brucher (tourism region OberGraz), as well as my dad Hermann Paschinger (Klösterreich).


Last but not least, we stop at the Pilgrimage Church Maria Strassengel.

This iconic church sits high above a village of almost the same name, Judendorf-Strassengel, and is worth the visit if but for the views from the top. Besides, the church is a famous example of high Gothic style in Austria (everything literally soars skywards!) and holds something very rare and unique: A naturally grown wooden cross that has come to being venerated like a relic. Liam is impressed (though mostly by the moving light of the many candles inside the church) and we chuckle at seeing the precious church building through his wide-eyed smiles!

Angekommen: Die Wallfahrtskirche Maria Straßengel thront hoch über der umliegenden Landschaft ...

The pilgrimage church Maria Strassengel sits high atop a hill overlooking the surrounding area …


... empfangen werden wir hier von dem überaus jungen Abt,

… inside, we are being received by a rather young abbot, Mag. Philipp Helm, who takes us on a storytelling journey of the church and its history.


Da staun' ich nicht schlecht: Mit Liam in der Wallfahrtskirche vor dem Marienaltar. So viel Kirchen auf einmal habe ich ja "noch nie gesehen"!

Lovely to have Liam with us, and marvel at all the little details he points at!


Rund um die Wallfahrtskirche könnt Ihr den Blick schweifen lassen, Esel auf der Koppel bestaunen (wenn sie sich denn zeigen), und eine uralte Rauchkuchl besichtigen.

Around the actual pilgrimage church, you can enjoy the wide-ranging views, some grazing donkeys, as well as a very old medieval kitchen that I am sure has served countless meals to thousands of pilgrims throughout the centuries.


Spending this day near Graz in Styria, we can clearly say that you may also visit both religious places with (very) young children and still enjoy the cultural, gastronomic and natural offer of this place. The histories of both Rein Abbey as well as Maria Strassengel are definitely worth exploring.


Disclaimer: We have been invited on this trip by the association “Klösterreich” in order to visit Rein Abbey as well as the local pilgrimage church Maria Straßengel. All opinions are my own.

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