Abbey of St. Florian, Sankt Florian

The Abbey of St. Florian (German: Stift St. Florian), the largest monastery in Upper Austria, is an impressive example of Baroque architecture and art. It is also the shrine of St. Florian, patron saint against fire and flood (and therefore patron of firefighters), whose grave lies under the church. The abbey is located in the town of Sankt Florian, 12 miles outside Linz, from which it is accessible by public transportation.

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History of the Abbey of St. Florian

St. Florian was a Roman official and Christian martyr who was executed by drowning in the Enns River around 304 AD. Because of his watery death, he is the patron saint of protection again flood and fire.

The first Abbey of St. Florian was built over the site of his grave around 800; it was given to the Augustinians in 1071 by the Bishop of Passau. The present building dates from a Baroque rebuilding between 1686 and 1751.

The great composer Anton Bruckner (1824-96) was the organist at St. Florian as a young man and wrote many of his masterpieces here. He spent most of his life as a great success in Vienna, but he wished to be buried beneath his organ at the Abbey of St. Florian. His tomb can be visited, as well as the room where he lived.

What to See at the Abbey of St. Florian

The long, yellow-and-white west face of the abbey has three towers: two on the church (260 feet high) and another over the elaborate Baroque doorway. The inner court is known for its Fountain of the Eagle.

The abbey library contains around 140,000 books and manuscripts and its ceiling is decorated with frescoes of allegorical subjects by Bartolomeo Altomonte.

The Altdorfer Galleryis a major highlight of a visit to St. Florian - here famous works by the 16th-century painter Albrecht Altdorfer (who is often compared with his contemporary, Albrecht Dürer) are displayed.

A fine staircase leads to the Imperial Apartments (Kaiserzimmer), plush rooms in which many emperors, empresses, royals and at least one pope (Pius VI) have lodged.

The abbey church features columns of pink marble from the Salzburg area and lavish stucco decoration. The pulpit is in black marble and the choir stalls are gilded, ornamented and carved.

The crypt is full of burials, including a surprising stack of bones that was discovered in 1291. Comprising the skeletons of about 6,000 people, they are said to be the remains of early Christians who were buried near the saint.

More traditional burials in the crypt include the large Gothic tomb of abbot Peter Maurer (d. 1525), coffins of more abbots displayed in niches, and the simple tomb of Anton Bruckner (d.1896) under the organ. Fragments of Roman walls and the foundations of the Gothic church are also visible down here.

Quick Facts on the Abbey of St. Florian

Site Information
Names:Abbey of St. Florian · St. Florian's Abbey · Stift St. Florian
Country:Austria
Categories:churches; monasteries; abbeys; abbey churches
Styles:Baroque style
Dates:1686-1751
Status: active
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:48.207251° N, 14.378765° E
Address:Stiftstrasse 1
Sankt Florian, Austria
Phone:+43 (0)7224 8902 0
Email:info@stift-st-florian.at
Website:www.stift-st-florian.at
Hours:Apr-Oct: daily 10am, 11am, 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm. Outside these hours, write to the abbey for permission to visit.
Lodging:View hotels near the Abbey of St. Florian
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours and prices can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

References

  1. Darwin Porter, Frommer's Austria.
  2. St. Florian Augustinian Abbey - Planetware
  3. Stift St. Florian - official website
  4. The Abbey of St. Florian - Tribute to Anton Bruckner

More Information

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© Jon De Keyser
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Map of the Abbey of St. Florian, Sankt Florian

Below is a location map and aerial view of the Abbey of St. Florian. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.