St Florian Augustinian Abbey
The original St Florian Augustinian Abbey monastery was built around the year 800 over the grave of St Florian, a high official in the Roman province of Noricum who became a Christian and was martyred about 304 AD by drowning in the River Enns; he is still invoked all over Austria for protection against fire and flood. In 1071 Bishop Altmann of Passau assigned the abbey to the Augustinian Canons. Rebuilding in the Baroque style was begun in 1686 by Carlo Carlone (d. 1708), continued by Jakob Prandtauer and completed in 1751. The abbey is still a focal point of learning (theological seminary) and music. The Florian Boys' Choir (Florianer Sängerknaben) has old traditions, and together with the Bruckner Organ form the basis for promoting church music (sung mass, organ concerts). From April to October there are conducted tours through the abbey buildings every day at 10am, 11am, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm, for groups of more than six people; also at other times by arrangement.
Entrance to the St Florian Augustinian Abbey is through the impressive main doorway which covers all three floors; it was constructed by Prandtauer, and the statues - including massive figures of Atlas on the ground floor and of "Virtue" on the first floor - are by L. Sattler. Above the doorway is the Bläserturm.
The imposing St Florian Augustinian Abbey Church, with twin Baroque towers 80m/260ft high, lies at the northern end of the west wing. The interior is given a monumental effect by its giant semi-circular pillars mounted on high bases and has lavish stucco decoration; the choir stalls and organ loft are richly carved, with putti, and the pulpit is of black marble. The great organ was the favorite instrument of Anton Bruckner (1824-96), who was organist here from 1848-55 and who lies buried in the crypt under the main organ. The crypt also contains the oldest parts of the monastery buildings.
Prandtauer's masterpiece is the Grand Staircase ("Stiegenhaus") on the courtyard side of the west wing in the St Florian Augustinian Abbey; based on designs by Carlone, it provides an imposing access to the Imperial Apartments through arcades and a giant columned arch extending over two floors.
The St Florian Augustinian Abbey sumptuously appointed Imperial (Kaiserzimmer) were used by visiting Emperors and Popes; note especially the Prince Eugene Room.
Adjoining the St Florian Augustinian Abbey's Imperial Apartments is the simple Bruckner Room in which the composer lived for 10 years; it contains a piano, an armchair and the bed in which he died (some of the furniture was brought here fron Vienna, where he died in 1896).
The Altdorfer Gallery in the west wing of the St Florian Augustinian Abbey contains St Sebastain's Altar, with fourteen captivatingly colored paintings by Albrecht Altdorfer (1480-1538), a master of the Danube school.
In the south wing of the St Florian Augustinian Abbey visitors are shown the Marble Hall, an elegant room with marble columns capped with Corinthian capitals. The ceiling paintings depict Prince Eugene's victory over the Turks, an example of Imperial might. The Hall also contains portraits of Charles IV and Prince Eugene.
In the east wing of the St Florian Augustinian Abbey is the magnificent Library (1744-50; designed by G. Hayberger), with ceiling paintings by B. Altomonte ("Marriage of Religion and Learning"), walls covered in books and a Roccoco gallery.
The St Florian Augustinian Abbey's Art Collection, comprising paintings and objets d'art of all kinds, is displayed in rooms near the Library.
Map - St Florian Augustinian Abbey
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