Cistercian Monastery of Zwettl
The Cistercian monastery of Zwettl was founded in a romantic bend of the Kamp valley in 1137. It enjoyed a golden age during the Midde Ages and after the Counter Reformation, but has always generated a vigorous cultural and spiritual life that is still alive today, together with an economic activity that is of great value to the area. Note the mainly Medieval architecture and rich Baroque decoration inside the abbey church. This 14C Gothic building was given its elegant west front, adorned with statues and topped by a slender 80m-high tower that is crowned with a dome and its lantern, in the 18C. Baroque adornments dominate the interior and even distract attention from the harmonious arrangement of the chancel surrounded by 14 radiating chapels. The majestic high altar decoration is dominated by the realistic representation of an oak tree, which recalls the legend of the monastery's foundation on the spot where it is said that an oak tree remained green in winter. It is thus a symbol of eternity: the Tree of Salvation. Also note the superb, richly inlaid choir stalls, the pulpit and the organ. The cloister is particularly attractive, with its 330 columns marking the transition between Romanesque and Gothic styles. The chapter house, with its central pillar, is the oldest part of the abbey and the ancient Romanesque dormitory is the oldest of its kind in Austria.