Visiting Lilienfeld Abbey: Tracing the history of abbeys & monasteries in Lower Austria.

Lilienfeld Abbey. You may easily find this gem of a medieval Austrian Abbey (the largest in all of Austria!) only about half an hour’s drive from St. Pölten, or a good hour’s drive from the capital city, Vienna. Coming into the small town of Lilienfeld, you can’t miss the abbey against the backdrop of the gently rising alpine upland, as it’s clearly the largest building complex around. There’s a school, a mighty monastic library, countless forests as well as even an “alpine hut (“Klosteralm”) at Muckenkogel mountain” that now make up the entire little “kingdom” of Lilienfeld Abbey. I have already spent the night here as a pilgrim back in 2014 (read more about it here!), and have now come back with more time at my hands to explore the very abbey itself, as well as its surroundings.

 

And haven’t you, too, been wondering how a night spent as a guest at Austria’s largest medieval abbey might look like ..?

In diesem Gästetrakt des Stift Lilienfeld nächtigen wir heute ...

Warm and welcoming, I may say. This building part has some basic guest rooms, complete with ensuite facilities …

 

... die Zimmer sind einfach und gemütlich, das Frühstück ebenso ...

… and a good breakfast featuring local produce. (Good morning, Angelika by the way!) …

 

... und so machen wir uns Schritt für Schritt daran, das Stift Lilienfeld (hier mit seinem schönen Kreuzgang) ...

… step by step, my travel blogging friends and me are exploring what Lilienfeld Abbey has to offer (for instance this beautiful old cloister) …

 

... die altehrwürdige Bibliothek des

… the old monastery library …

 

... seine gewaltige Stiftskirche ...

… the abbey church, which counts as the largest in all of Lower Austria …

 

... sowie sämtliche Angebote kennen zu lernen ...

… as well as all the offers visitors like us …

 

... die Besuchern hier offen stehen (vielen Dank, Thomas Gravogl, für den spannenden Blick hinter die Kulissen!).

… may experience behind “closed abbey doors” (thank you for a peek behind the scenes, dear Thomas Gravogl).

 

Die Mönche des Stiftes sind übrigens auch immer wieder "zu sehen", und stehen uns gerne für Führungen bzw. kurze Gespräche zum klösterlichen Alltag sowie der Geschichte des Stiftes (mehr als 800 Jahre!) zur Verfügung.

The Cisterican monks, such as the abbot Matthäus Nimmervoll here, are quite open, too, and love having chat (even a guided tour) with us. After all, 800 years of history need more than just a quick visit, in order to fully understand the abbey’s historical context.

 

I have also been really impressed with Irene Rabl, a young woman who is responsible for the abbey’s oldest manuscripts.

And not only because for the first (and probably only) time in our lives, we get to see an original handwriting of the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa. But also because we are all but fascinated by the lightness and self-evident handling of ancient writings (some of them many hundreds years old) of Irene Rabl herself, whose youthful freshness represents an unexpected contrast to the old collections surrounding her. My tip: ask for Ms. Rabl at Lilienfeld Abbey. Her anecdotes are really exciting, and convey an interesting, historical overall impression of Lilienfeld, as well as the history of Austria.

Im Arbeitsbereich der jungen Archivarin des Stift Lilienfeld, Frau Irene Rabl ...

Checking out the everyday working life of Irene Rabl, at Lilienfeld Abbey …

 

... ist ein wirklich seltener Blick hinter die Kulissen: Als Bücherwurm faszinieren mich solche Einblicke naturgemäß ungemein ...

… is a truly exciting peek behind the scenes, especially for an old bookworm like me …

 

... vielen Dank für diese Möglichkeit im Stift Lilienfeld!

… thank you so much for this unique experience, dear monks & members at Lilienfeld Abbey!

 

And if it’s nature you want (and enjoy), why not visit the local abbey park, as well as the nearby mountain hut, called “Klosteralm”, as well? To get there, you have to take a one-chair chair lift: A true travel adventure not to be missed!

The establishment of the abbey park of Lilienfeld falls into a time when the discovery of the “New World” exerted a lot of fascination on former inhabitants. So, contrary to strictly geometrical guidelines at the time, it was created gently, even playfully, and planted with numerous, exotic tree species. The park thus seems more contemporary than ever, despite being almost two hundred years old.

Naturgenuss und Erholung im Stiftspark Lilienfeld: Dieser Baum hier mit seinem kleinen "Baumkreis" ist mein Lieblingsort im Park geworden!

My favourite little gem of nature at Abbey Lilienfeld’s adjoining little park!

 

Not far away from Lilienfeld Abbey, you will also find the opportunity to “hover” up to the so-called Klosteralm hut on the Muckenkogel mountain, using a quiet chairlift ride which takes about 20 minutes. The view from the top is wonderful, extending far into the northern Alpine foothills, the Tulln basin, the city of Sankt Pölten, and many other parts of Lower Austria. My tip for you: Up at the Klosteralm hut itself, you will be well looked after and can enjoy regional food and drinks, as well as the sun (and a local, cute furry cate!) warming your belly!

Nach der Auffahrt auf die Klosteralm ...

Up, up on our trip to Klosteralm …

 

... entlohnt Euch von oben ...

… where views like these …

 

... dieser wirklich weitreichende Blick ins Tal ...

… top off our visit of Lilienfeld Abbey down below …

 

Nicht vergessen: Besuch der Klosteralm ...

Don’t forget visiting the alpine hut Klosteralm, which forms part of Lilienfeld Abbey …

 

... auf gut 1.000 Meter Seehöhe, mit viel frischer Luft und Klosteralmkatze!

… some 1.000 metres above sea level, including their playful cat!

 

Danke für den schönen Besuch, Stift Lilienfeld! Hier würde ich jederzeit gerne wieder vorbeischauen.

Thank you so much for this lovely little visit, dear Lilienfeld Abbey! We’ll be back anytime soon.

 

 

Monika & Petar Fuchs, who publish on TravelWorldOnline.de, as well as Angelika Mandler, of WiederUnterwegs.com, have also written about their experience of staying at Lilienfeld Abbey:

 

Disclaimer: We have been invited by the Austrian Association of Monasteries, Abbeys & Convents “Klösterreich” on this trip to Lilienfeld Abby. All opinions are my own.

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6 comments

Kemp Reece 2 April 2019 - 02:05

Wonderful blog, so informative. We are planning a trip to Austria and northern Italy in the near future and would like especially to tour monastery sites. Know of anyone who could identify a monastery from a 1870’s painting – one of our mystery destinations! Again a wonderful travel blog and well worth reading.

Reply
Elena 2 April 2019 - 09:39

Dear Kemp,

Thank you so much for your feedback! I am glad to hear you found my travel blog useful and inspirational. Yes, please send us an image of the painting at info@kloesterreich.at (our website & email address for the Austrian Monastery Association “Klösterreich”) and we will do our best to find out more! Sounds exciting indeed 🙂

Best wishes and safe travels,

Elena

Reply
Murray Leshner 24 October 2019 - 01:28

Hello:

Thank you for publishing this information. I visited Lilienfeld about 2 weeks ago, and we just walked around the Abbey courtyard, and hiked the trail leading to the Schaugarten Lilienfeld.

Do you by any chance know the purpose of the small cylindrical (flat on one side) stone building with small square openings and a ‘keyhole’ opening? It looks like a protected building…maybe from the 17th century when the Abbey served as a fortress?

Vielen dank.

Reply
Elena 28 October 2019 - 12:55

Dear Murray,

Thanks so much for reaching out and for sharing your detailed observation of visiting Lilienfeld Abbey with me. If you are curious to know, you can always contact Mr Gravogl at this email address, who is responsible for marketing and guest relations at the abbey and will know what you are talking about (or enquire with the Abbey): stift.lf.gravogl@a1.net ! Hope this helps !

Kind regards, and have a great stay here in Austria!

Elena

Reply
Olga Baird 17 October 2020 - 21:02

The photos in the gallery are not of Lilienfeld but of Heiligenkreuz Abbey.

Reply
Elena 24 October 2020 - 14:13

Dear Olga,

I apologise for the confusion. Indeed, in this gallery, I show images of both abbeys and travel destinations: https://www.flickr.com/photos/creativelena/albums/72157670598412668. Perhaps upon viewing, Heiligenkreuz Abbey came first – as the gallery slideshow continues, however, you will also find images of Lilienfeld there.

Have you already been to visit? I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as we did.

Kind regards,

Elena

Reply

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