Heiligenkreuz Tourist Attractions
Some 34km/21mi southwest of Vienna, not far from Mödling on the edge of the Vienna Forest (Wiener Wald), lies the little town of Heiligenkreuz ("Holy Cross"), with Austria's second oldest Cistercian abbey.
It takes its name from the relic of the True Cross which was presented to the monks by an Austrian duke. The abbey was founded in 1133, under the influence of French Cistercian monks. The church itself dates from the 12th and 13th C. The last of the Babenbergers died in 1246 and, in common with many others of the line, was buried in Heiligenkreuz. The convent buildings were reconstructed in the 17th and 18th C., when a new courtyard with two story arcades and a gatehouse tower were added.The prettiest route from Vienna to Heligenkreuz goes through the village of Perchtoldsdorf with Trinity Pillar by J. B. Fischer von Erlach on the Main square, the friendly little town of Mödling and through the Hinterbrühl Valley (with an underground grotto by the lake and the historic Höldrichsmühle Inn).
Austria's second oldest Cistercian abbey, the Heiligenkreuz Monastery, founded in 1133, takes its name from the relic of a cross which an Austrian duke presented to the monks of the monastery. The collegiate church, the last resting place of several members of the House of Babenberg, was built in the 12th C. The buildings were renovated in the 17th and 18th C. and enlarged by the addition of a large courtyard with a two-story arcade and a gate tower. The richly decorated Trinity Column and the Joseph Fountain are modeled on the work of the Venetian Baroque sculptor Giovanni Giuliani (1663-1744) who lived in the monastery from 1711 until his death. On the west facade of the triple-naved church is a group of three windows typical of Cistercian churches. The Romanesque long house, with massive pillars, is in stark contrast to the bright Gothic choir with valuable 13th C. stained glass windows. The richly carved choir stalls are 18th C. On the south side of the church are the cloisters built between 1220-50 in the transitional style from Romanesque to Gothic which can only be seen as part of a tour. The 300 pillars are made of red marble. Also interesting are the grave stones and the tracery windows overlooking the cloisters, mostly gray-colored. In the adjoining Chapter House can be seen the gravestone of Frederick II, the last Babenberg Duke, who fell in battle against the Hungarians in 1246. In the west wing of the courtyard are illustrations from the 13th to 16th C. together with 150 clay models by the Venetian Baroque sculptor Giuliani. The well-stocked monastery library contains precious hand- written medieval manuscripts.
Opening hours: Apr 1 to Oct 31: 9am-11:30am, 1:30pm-5pm
Nov 1 to Mar 31: 1:30pm-4pm
Nov 1 to Mar 31: 1:30pm-4pm
The Heiligenkreuz Abbey buildings are grouped around a spacious courtyard. It contains a richly decorated Trinity Column and the Baroque Josefsbrunnen (fountain), designed by the Venetian sculptor Giovanni Giuliani (1663-1744), who lived as a "houseguest" in the abbey from 1711 until his death.
On the west facade of the triple aisled church will be seen a group of three windows typical of Cistercian churches. The Romanesque main nave, lined by massive pillars, is in sharp contrast to the light Gothic choir, which has stained glass of about 1300. The richly carved choirstalls date from the first half of the 18th C.
The Cloister south of the Heiligenkreuz Abbey church (guided tours only) is in a style transitional between Romanesque and Gothic (1220-50). Its 300 columns are of red marble. Worth noting are the memorial slabs and the gray tracery windows opening out onto the cloister garden.
Abbey Chapter Room
Adjoining the Heiligenkreuz Abbey cloister is the Chapter Room, in the floor of which can be seen the memorial slab of Frederick II, who died in battle against the Hungarians in 1246; his death saw the end of the Babenberg reign in Austria.
The Heiligenkreuz Abbey possesses a large Library (visit by application) with valuable manuscripts of the 11th- 13th C., some of them written in the abbey itself. In the Abbey Museum (west wing of the courtyard) there is a display of 13th-16th C. sculptures and some 150 clay models by Giovanni Giuliani.
About 6km/4mi southwest of Heiligenkreuz stands Schloss Mayerling, now a Carmelite convent, on the site of an earlier hunting lodge belonging to Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria, where on January 1 1889 the Crown Prince and his mistress Maria Vetsera took their own lives, in circumstances which have never been fully explained. The Crown Prince is buried in the Capuchin vault; his room was later made into a chapel.
Map of Heiligenkreuz Attractions