“Schottenstift,” or, “there’s only like 30,000 books on there, I counted”
Our tour1 this week was to Schottenstift, a monastery founded in 1155 by… Irish monks. Yes, Irish, though name does translate as “Scottish Abbey.”2 I finally got myself a locker in the Institute, because last week I was very irritated by carrying around both my camera and my backpack the whole time. Definitely a good investment. Future students: get a locker, they’re useful.
Alright, alright, I know what you’re all actually here to see, the pictures:
The monastery is about a third of the way around the Ring from the Institute, so we had a bit of walking to do before we got there. I snapped a picture of this little alleyway, because there’s streets like this all over and they are all super photogenic. It’s ridiculous.
Also, there’s statues all over the place.
Across from that statue was the Most Photogenic Firehouse Ever – it was built under Empress Elisabeth of Austria, along with a bunch of other nice things like trains and street names.
And we stopped at a Holocaust memorial – the edges of this mausoleum-like structure are covered in books with their titles facing inwards. Stories never read, like the lives unlived due to the atrocities of that war.
At a side entrance into the monastery proper is a rather ancient church, built in the 11th century and still standing today. Being the big ol’ music nerd that I am, I sang a bit of Franz Biebl’s Ave Maria,3 because you know the acoustics in there are awesome.
Once we got into the monastery itself, we basically immediately headed underground, to the undercroft of the church. Where they have, casually, a Roman grave.
And, if you go through this creepy little tunnel…
… you can see the grave of Henry II “Jasomirgott”, Duke of Austria. He’s basically the reason Vienna wound up as the seat of a couple different empires – he moved his court to the fledgling city way back when.
Coming back out of the creepy tunnel, you can take another flight of stairs up into a different area of the monastery and see some fairly ancient carvings.
Back down to the undercroft, because the stone-carving area was all sealed off, and I took a moment to snap a photo of the little pipe organ that they’d installed as part of a reconstruction that turned the undercroft from “room full of coffins” to “room full of coffins that we also use for church services.”4
And a picture of some of the filigree on one of those coffins, indicating that the person laid to rest there was a member of the Order of the Golden Fleece.5
- The Austrian Cultural History class we’re all taking has once-a-week tours around the city. It’s casual. ↩
The not-actually-very-funny story behind it is that the Latin name for Ireland is “Scotia Maior,” while Scotland is “Scotia Minor.” When the Irish monks arrived to build their monastery, they spoke only Latin; the locals weren’t, y’know, super fluent in Latin and thought they were saying they were Scottish.
Like I said, not super funny, but I am kinda entertained by the idea of a Monk learning Latin and German like 500 years down the line and finally realizing their name has been a mistranslation this whole time. ↩
- I choose this one specifically because, to me, it is the Canonical Version of Ave Maria – it’s the first choral piece I ever learned, and I hold it near and dear to my heart. ↩
- I just really don’t understand religious people. ↩
- If I’m remembering properly, he was put in there for killing a lot of foreigners. As were, I suspect, almost all of the other members. ↩