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Austria – Part Six

17 Aug

This post should actually be called “a coming back”, because when we decided to drive through Austria towards Innsbruck and opted for a mid-way stop, we just had to look into each others eyes and pointed to the same place on the map.

Mondsee……it was exactly 20 years ago that we were there with two couples of friends and our children, just a short pit-stop going somewhere else. This time we gave the place more time, and we immediately found a very nice and cozy place where to stay….

And then it was time to explore….the fountain in the main square wasn’t there back then…but we were delighted to see that children still enjoy playing all together with water, laughing loudly, instead that with some videogame…..

Tha main square and street haven’t changed a bit…..

but the place where we had lunch was new….

Mondsee is a town in the Vöcklabruc of Upper Austria located on the shore of the lake Mondsee, and home to one or more prehistoric pile-dwelling (or stilt house) settlements that are part of the Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps Unesco World Heritage Site. Twenty years ago the town church dedicate to St. Michael was under renovation, so we couldn’t visit it properly….now I took all the time to look around….

The region of the Mondseeland, in which Mondsee is located, was formerly part of Bavaria. In 748 Mondsee Abbey was founded by Odilo, Duke of Bavaria. The abbey tradition was that the first monks came from Monte Cassino in Italy. In 788, after the fall of Duke Tassilo III, Mondsee became an Imperial abbey and over the centuries acquired extensive property. Around 800 the Codex Millenarius, an illustrated Latin book of the Gospels was written at the abbey. In 831 King Louis the Pious gave the monastery to Regensburg Cathedral. It was not until 1142 that it regained its independence, under Abbot Conrad II, otherwise Blessed Conrad of Mondsee. Conrad, formerly a monk of Siegburg Abbey, had been abbot of Mondsee since 1127, and was extremely successful in defending and regaining the rights and possessions of the monastery, to the extent that in 1145 he was murdered by a group of nobles at Oberwang nearby.

In 1506 possession of the Mondseeland passed from Bavaria to Austria. In 1514 Abbot Wolfgang Haberl established the abbey grammar school. After a period of decline during the Reformation and the consequent disturbances, the abbey entered a new period of prosperity. Under Abbot Bernhard Lidl (1727–73) and especially in connection with the celebration of the thousandth anniversary of the foundation, there was extensive re-building of the church and the monastic premises. From 1773 the abbot was Opportunus II Dunkl, who was the last abbot of Mondsee: in 1791 the abbey was dissolved by Emperor Leopold II. From 1625 until its dissolution the abbey was a member of the Benedictine Austrian Congregation. During the Napoleonic period the Mondseeland reverted to Bavaria for a few years. During that time, in 1810, the Bavarian Field Marshal Prince Karl Philipp von Wrede acquired the abandoned monastery (along with the nearby abbeys of Suben and Gleink), and used it as a castle. Wrede remained the owner even after the return of the territory to Austria and significantly developed the locality, for example by the construction of roads and the establishment of local cheese production. In 1905, on the death of Princess Ignazia von Wrede, Mondsee passed to the Counts Almeida.

Salzburg sculptor Hans Waldburger designed the18 m high early Baroque high altar. More altars were built in the monastery church, these included the Holy Spirit Altar, the Wolfgang Altar, the Corpus Christi Altar, the Poor Souls Altar, the Sebastian Altar, the altar dedicated to St. Peter. Later, other altars were added, this time by Franz Anton Koch. These were the John altar, the Josef Altar, the Anna or Virgin altar and Antonius altar. The Altar Cross was put together by a Mondsee sculptor. All the altars are outstanding pieces of work!

Outside the church, one side houses a fountain dedicated to some bishop, on the other side there’s the old Mondsee Schloss (castle)…

Schloss Mondsee or Hotel Mondsee is the new name for Austria’s oldest Benedictine abbey (Mondsee Abbey). Countess Almeida sold the castle in 1985 to the Asamer family, who opened it as a hotel. You can walk freely inside the courtyard and I’ve read that some of the old walls have been preserved and have information panels which tells you the story of the building. Even the old bread oven of the Benedictine monks has survived!

The cloister church, now the inner court of the hotel, was used for the site of the wedding in The Sound of Music.

The Mondsee – moonlake in English – offers a wide range of watersport activities. With a length of 11 kilometers an a width of up to 2 kilometers the Mondsee is one of the biggest lakes in the Salzkammergut region. The Mondsee and neighbouring Irrsee are the warmest lakes in the Salzkammergut with water temperatures reaching 27 degrees C (81° Fahrenheit). Each year, thousands of guests flock to Mondsee to enjoy the various water sports on offer here – sailing, surfing, kitesurfing, swimming and lots more.

See below hubby enjoying the view?….

Even in a rainy day the lake offers something to do, even if just looking at a group of beginners taking lessons on how to steer a boat (hubby was an infiltrator….)

I liked better to see how children managed it…..how seriously they took the commitment…

Mondsee is one of Austria’s last privately owned lakes. In August 2008, Nicolette Waechter (owner) announced it was up for sale. Ian Fleming mentions the Mondsee in one of his James Bond novels, Thunderball. In chapter six, Blofeld reports to the members of SMERSH that their German unit has successfully retrieved in secret Himmler’s hoard of jewels from the Mondsee.

We enjoyed our food while there, from frugal meals to more “gourmet” ones…

Strolling around the village was interesting also to see some beautiful houses….

The last night there we had dinner in one of the oldest restaurant in town, owned by some second generation italian emigrants….a very good choice.

It was a cloudy and windy night, but this didn’t scared the people to attend a concert of the local band….

 

The sky was getting darker and darker, but it didn’t seem to matter to these two little girls dressed in traditional costumes…

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Posted by on August 17, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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