Göttweig Abbey in enthroned for all to see at a height of 1473 feet above sea level on the eastern margins of the Wachau opposite the city of Krems. A World Heritage Site since 2001, it is a magnet today for visitors from across the world; but over and above this it is a spiritual centre in the heart of Lower Austria and populated by a community of more than 50 monks.
The abbey, sometimes called the “Austrian Montecassino”, was founded in 1083 by Altmann, Bishop of Passau, for a community of canons living according to the Augustinian rule. In 1094, Göttweig was transferred to the Benedictines. Only remnants are preserved of the medieval substance, namely, the Chapel of Erentrudis of 1072, the Alte Burg with the Collection of Graphics and the Department for Image Science of the Danube University of Krems, also the crypt and chancel of the church and remains of the cloisters. After a catastrophic fire in 1718, it became necessary to rebuild the abbey in Baroque style. The Imperial architect Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt supplied the plans for the grandiose abbey building, which was started under Abbot Gottfried Bessel; however, only two-thirds were completed.
The monumental Kaiserstiege – the Imperial Staircase – with Paul Troger’s fresco of 1739 is one of the largest and most beautiful Baroque staircases in Europe. The ceiling fresco shows Emperor Charles VI as Helios-Apollo in his sun chariot, accompanied by muses and personifications of the sciences. The adjoining princely and imperial rooms hold annual special exhibition showing works from the abbey art collections. The Altmanni Hall is used today as a festive background for events such as the Europaforum Wachau. It was originally intended as a dining hall for high-status secular guests.
Opening hours of the museum in the Kaisertrakt
21 March - 1 November 10 am - 6 pm