Neustift / Novacella Monastery Brixen South Tyrol
A cultural and historic gem with a weir system, pilgrim’s hospice, rococo library, baroque church and much more
North of Bressanone / Brixen, in the municipality of Vahrn / Varna, you'll find one of the most famous sights of South Tyrol: The Neustift / Novacella Monastery. This Augustinian monastery arose towards the end of the 12th Century. The remaining fortifications date back to the 15th Century, when the locals feared an invasion of the Ottomans in the Crown Land of Tyrol. However, one needn't be an expert to understand that the military value of this site was negligible and the purpose of building the fortifications was probably only to calm the populace. A tower of the fortress still bears the name of the "Turks' Tower."
One of the monastery buildings is conspicuous due to its very special construction: The Castel Sant'Angelo (Michael's Chapel) was part of the medieval pilgrim hospice. Its architecture reveals it to be a smaller copy of the papal Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome. One really ought not to miss the monastery library, which can be visited on guided tours. The two-story Rococo Hall is home to about 65,000 books.
The Neustift / Novacella Monastery church is heavily furnished with ornate Baroque features fashioned by Bavarian artists especially brought here for this purpose. Particularly noteworthy are the ceiling paintings by Matthew Gunther, which relates scenes from the life of St. Augustine. The church as an overall work of art is now considered one of the highlights of the Bavarian Baroque.