Masterpieces of interior design

The abbey church

A splendid testimony of faith

In around 1740 the abbey church acquired its present interior, in the light-filled, colourful style that was typical of the Late Baroque era in the southern German region. Decorating the ceiling are frescoes by Matthäus Günther from Augsburg depicting St Augustine and the Virgin Mary, the patron saint of the church. The stucco-work, which includes numerous rose-coloured angels, is by Anton Gigl from Wessobrunn. The building itself, on the other hand, dates back to the Middle Ages. Its massive Romanesque bell tower and the three-aisled nave were built in around 1200, while the high Late Gothic choir is from around 1470/80.

The cloisters

Among the best in Tyrol

In the Middle Ages the Neustift cloisters served as a roofed corridor connecting the abbey church, chapter hall, dining hall and dormitory. But they are so much more than this. The walls and vault were decorated in the 14th and 15th centuries with Gothic frescoes, not all of which however have been preserved. There was a simple reason for this: when the abbey church was being redesigned in the Baroque style, gravestones were removed from the interior and set in the cloister walls. A further feature of the cloisters is a contemporary work of art dating from 1992 in the form of a fountain with a bronze statue of the abbey’s founder Hartmann by Friedrich Gurschler.

The monastery library

A festival hall of learning

What Wikipedia is today was once a well-stocked library. To call Neustift’s library ‘well stocked’ would however be an understatement. Almost 100,000 books are assembled here, of which 20,000 are in the library hall dating from around 1770/75.

Entering the hall from one of the two splendid portals, the eye is drawn upwards from the precious natural stone floor to two floors of full shelves and the partially gilded stucco-work ceiling. The books kept here were primarily the ones acquired for the education of the priests and the next generation of canons.

The Chinese cabinet

The Far East in Neustift

No-one was aware that Neustift had a Far Eastern element. Not until spring 2021 that is, when wall paintings dating from around 1775/80 were discovered under seven layers of plaster. 
They feature everyday scenes inspired by China and exotic birds, and show just how fascinated the Europeans of the Rococo era were by the Far East. The pictures on the east and west walls represent the four elements earth, air, water and fire.

The Chinese cabinet in Neustift incidentally also had forerunners: in the Innsbruck court art of Empress Maria Theresia.

The new museum wing

Old walls, new attractions

The museum has continued to develop. In May 2021 a new wing was opened. The former coach house of 1886 is now where the tour of the abbey starts, with an infopoint, cash desk and museum shop. The museum rooms documenting the educational and economic history of Neustift are also new, as well as a room for special exhibitions.

The work of art ‘Hortus Sancti Augustini’ (‘Garden of St Augustine’), which decorates the steel cladding of the lift shaft is a highlight of the museum’s new wing. It is by the Vorarlberg artist Paul Renner, who was inspired by the flora in the abbey’s garden and vineyards.

The Castle of Angels

An outstanding work of the Romanesque era in Tyrol

For more than 800 years the two-storey round chapel has guarded access to the abbey. It is one of the most important Romanesque buildings in Tyrol and is named after its much larger counterpart in Rome.

The chapel was built in around 1200 as a free imitation of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The crenellations and arrow slits were added in the second half of the 15th century, when invasion by the Ottomans was feared. A Baroque sculpture of the chapel’s patron, the Archangel Michael bearing the scales of life, watches over its entrance.

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