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  • Post published:May 6, 2019

Admont Abbey: welcome to the largest monastic library worldwide


© By Sheila 

Light, gold and wisdom, these are the impressions that remain after my wonderful visit to the monastery library of the Admont Abbey. This year, the monastery celebrates its 945th anniversary. A more than welcome occasion to visit a cultural treasure, in front of which visitors can only remain silent. BONUS: At the end of my article, you find a great tip on how to spend a few wonderful days cheaply here.

I often feel like a treasure hunter when I travel for taleslikeart.com. This week, it led me into the Austrian national park “Gesäuse”. The air tasted clear and rough, it was quiet except for peaceful birdsong. The Benedictine Monastery Admont lies at the foot of an impressive mountain range. Off we go, exploring the largest monastic library hall in the world, a cultural treasure in the heart of Austria.

Wandering around the beautiful library of Admont Abbey.
I actually felt like Alice in Wonderland, between so much marble and gold...

“Like the mind, light should fill the room.”
– Josef Hueber

The first moments inside the library took my breath away. Too beautiful. Built in the late Baroque period, it becomes clear that the ideas of the Enlightenment accompanied the baroque master builder Josef Hueber during the construction of the library hall. Seven ceiling frescoes reinforce the impression of a heaven on earth. They represent the stages of human cognition, that accumulate in the middle dome as “divine revelation.” In front of the bookshelves, statues made of lime wood are placed, made by Josef Stammel- including the depictions of death, hell, heaven and judgment.

One of the seven ceiling frescoes of Admont Abbey.
One of the seven ceiling frescoes.

The books in the magnificent shelves are, surprise, old and unspeakably precious, in the hall itself there are 70,000 in number. Overall, the Admont has stock of 200,000 volumes. The library houses hundreds of manuscripts dating back to the 8th century. Simply incredible. My phantasy awakes  when I think of the possibility, that a few meters books wait, which were  last opened a few hundred years ago. It feels as if I can experience a connection through them to this past moment, like through a portal. The only thing I’m wondering is whether, in this stunning environment, I would actually be able to focus on the pages and content between the leather envelopes. I doubt it.

The statue "Resurrection and judgment" at the library of Admont Abbey.
The statue "Resurrection and judgment" at the library of Admont Abbey.

Next thought experiment: If this hall was closed for other visitors, equipped with a comfortable bed or a couch or whatever you preferre, and only myself among the books, day in and day out. When hungry or thirsty a bell can be rung, otherwise one lives alone under books. Would I read them then? Perhaps. But for a this could be fine…

The Admont Abbey is rich in knowledge in many ways: in addition to the famous library, you can find here also collections of Gothic and medieval art, as well as contemporary art.

MY TIP FOR YOU: Both the cultural treasures behind the walls and the nature surrounding them call for a longer stay in Admont. Now: Opposite the monastery you can see the magical castle Röthelstein, which is actually owned by a youth hostel group, offering CHEAP rooms in a wonderful location!

P.S. the Abbey’s own wine is also only to be recommended. We thoroughly enjoyed it, later on this beautiful day.

The entrance of the largest monastic library worldwide at Admont Abbey.
Entrance to the largest monastic library worldwide

I hope you enjoyed this post, stay in touch!

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