Zwettl: Chapter hall of the abbey.
Zwettl Abbey, Lower Austria, alt. 500 m, pop. 326, village and Cistercian abbey, 3 km north-east of the town Zwettl, located on a land bridge in a bend of the River Kamp. Zwettl abbey was founded by Hadmar I von Kuenring as the first subsidiary of the mother monastery in Heiligenkreuz in 1137, abbey church and parish church consecrated in 1159. Of the Romanesque church only the southern portal in the cloister has been preserved. The historically important Gothic ambulatory with encircling chapels (partly incorporating the Romanesque transverse cross) and the transept were constructed between 1343 and 1383, the two adjoining Gothic vault bays were built around 1490-1495. Baroque elements added during the 18th century (e.g. vestry and treasury east of the chancel, by J. Munggenast 1724-1727), the single-towered façade (based on plans by M. Steinl, realised by J. Munggenast 1722-1727) belongs to the most elaborate examples of Austrian-Southern German Baroque. Interior: high altar (dates back to 1731, based on plans by J. Munggenast and J. B. Känischbauer) with statues by J. M. Götz; altar of St. Bernhard (1502, by J. Preu the Elder); wood carvings by J. Schletterer; altar paintings by M. Altomonte, P. Troger, J. G. Schmidt, M. J. Schmidt, etc.; great organ (1730, by J. Egedacher); on the organ loft 22 Gothic stained glass (around 1420). The abbey is built around 4 courtyards, parts of the medieval building (around 1140-1180) are still preserved: the wing for lay brothers, the (oldest preserved Cistercian) chapter house (consecrated in 1187), the dormitory with Romanesque latrine buildings (earliest example of Cistercian water architecture in Central Europe) and the heated room. The (oldest Austrian Cistercian) cloister was built in the first quarter of the 13th century. Baroque convent (around 1620-1640) with new building by J. Munggenast (1730-1732), library (ceiling frescoes by P. Troger, 1733) with valuable manuscripts from the 12th to the 18th centuries. Abbey court (1680, reconstructed 1731-1739 by J. Munggenast) with collection of paintings in the prelacy. Romanesque Spitalskirche church (consecrated in 1217) in front of the outside gate of the abbey, Romanesque stone-built bridge (12th century) on the southern access road leading to the abbey.
Literature: P. Buberl, Die Kunstdenkmäler des Zisterzienserklosters Zwettl, 1940 (= Österr. Kunsttopographie, vol. 29); H. Oezelt, Stift Zwettl, 41972; K. Kubes, Stift Zwettl und seine Kunstschätze, 1979; J. Klinger (ed.), Zisterzienserstift Zwettl, 1989.
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