St. Florian Monastery, Austria

Day 45, Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Time to move on to our next destination.  I took this picture because I know my mom will recognize the pot with blue designs beside the flowers.  She has one just like it.

Bob closes the door as we leave.  It is hard to see, but the picture on the wall is of the two old aunties who used to live here. I was going to take a close up of it and somehow forgot.
On the way to say goodbye to my friends the sheep I snapped a few more photos of the farm buildings.  There were certainly lots of interesting things to see here. Only the young fellow destined for the table came up to see me today.  The other two were playing shy. This shows how long the front of the house is.  The attic full of stuff ran almost the whole length of it.  On the far end was the smaller attic above the two bedrooms in the auntie’s house. Part of the route to St. Florian Monastery, which is our next stop, is a very narrow road through some woods.
The monastery is very large.  The stretch of red roof from the church to the front corner is 200 metres long.  It covers a corridor that runs its length. This is the fountain in the middle of the large courtyard. I am so excited…we actually get to go into a library.  This library has 150,000 books, 35,000 of which are in this one room. They are mainly books on Religion and History. You can see the bookcase door that opens to another room.  The spiral staircase to the second floor is in that room.  There are many more rooms full of books but we only get to visit this one.  We are told that this library is available for the public to use.  Wish I lived closer! I love the library ‘ladders’ used ot reach books on high shelves.  Heck, I pretty much love everything about this library! Later on during the tour we see this photo of Adolph Hiltler standing in the same place we had just stood.  It is a strange thought…that we were someplace that he was.Of course this library also has a magnificent ceiling.
Next we visit the Marble Ballroom which represents the colours of the Habsburg Monarchy, red, white and yellow. This is why I end up with a sore neck after sightseeing! Our guide pointed out some of the many fossils that are in the marble on the floors and walls.  I never thought of marble as being a stone the came from ancient oceans. The big ammonite was on the fireplace hearth, notice the toe of a shoe in the corner for scale. One of the many very ornate carved wooden doors in the monastery. The Monastery church is grand.  Lots of carved white stone and dark carved woodwork. The altar is decorated with bouquets of sunflowers. We have never seen drapery carved in stone in a church before.  Everything in this church looks so very well preserved, there are no broken or dirty bits.  In fact everywhere in this monastery is very well taken care of.  We wonder where the money to maintain a place this large comes from.  The church organ was built in 1774 and it is one of the largest working organs in Austria.  It is known as the Bruckner Organ as it was played by composer and organist Anton Bruckner. He had been a choir boy at the monastery, and he was the church organist, between 1848 and 1855. I do not know much about classical music so did not know anything about Anton Bruckner. He was a famous Austrian composer, organist, and music theorist best known for his symphonies and masses. On the floor directly below the organ is a memorial plaque and …in the crypt directly below this plaque is his sarcophagus.  His wish was to be buried here at St. Florian Monastery even though he lived and died in Vienna. Yes, those are bones behind the sarcophagus, the bones of over 6,000 people, dating back to the 4th century.  It is thought that the bones of St. Florian could possibly be in here.  A few more pictures of the 700 year old crypt which is still used today as a burial place for the monastery monks. The windows open to outside, there is no glass.  I wonder if this was so decomposing bodies were ventilated?We visit twelve guest rooms in the monastery.  These rooms have not been used since the mid 18th century and have been preserved as a museum.  These elaborately decorated rooms were reserved for royalty who might visit the monastery.  These doorways connect all the rooms. The red bedroom was reserved for Pope Pius VI, although he only spent one night here. The walls and chairs in this room are covered in matching tapestries.  There is a big masonry stove in each of these rooms.Each room is lavishly decorated.  The last two rooms are a shrine to Anton Bruckner. The photo shows him in his bed in his Vienna apartment.  He died in this bed, which is now on display here along with his other furniture.Remember those big masonry stoves in the royal apartments?  These metal doors in the hallway open to the inside of the stoves.  This is how the fires in the stoves were cared for by servants without bothering the apartment occupants. There are thirty monks at this monastery.  Only thirteen live here full time, the rest live in neighbouring parishes.  Over the last 950 years the monastery had 108 monks at its peak and only three at its lowest.  I am told that thirty monks is quite good ‘these days’.  There is one young monk, several in their fifties and sixties and the rest are older.  We see this monk as we are leaving and assume he is the one young one. The cemetery beside the church is the prettiest, most well cared for one we have ever visited. As we drive towards Salzburg we pass several huge piles of sugar beets in the fields.  Austria grows more than 3 million tonnes of sugar beets every year. Finally we find a safe place to pull off the road so I can get a photo of one of the fields of pumpkins we have seen along the way. We make a quick stop at Kremsmunster Monastery but it can only be visited by guided tours and we don’t have time.  The church is open and it is the only one we have seen that has tapestries wrapped around its pillars.Back on the road, from a distance, I thought this was another field of pumpkins or maybe squash, but they are sunflowers. Good thing the sun wasn’t shining or I would have wanted to stay much longer and take many more photos.  What a beautiful sight it was to see so many gorgeous sunflowers.

 

 

Hörshching, Austria

Day 43, Monday, October 7, 2019

Here are the drawings I did yesterday.  I found these sheep quite a challenge to draw.  They move around a lot and they have quite a different shape from other animals I have drawn. There are none of the usual landmarks to use when drawing an animal, as their boney bits don’t show at all. Even their faces are soft with few angle changes to define their shape. I did really enjoy the afternoon with them and by the end of the afternoon I felt I was starting to figure out how to approach drawing them.

I asked our host, Peter, about the history of the  house so he takes us on a tour.  This is the old living quarters, where his wive’s two aunties lived.  They didn’t have much money so they never renovated, like so many of the other houses in the neighbourhood. The door leads to two bedrooms and the stairs to the attic.  These rooms are not being used now. The date 1705 is carved in the ceiling beam, but Peter tells us that the cottage is actually 400 years old and was originally a fisherman’s cottage.  He says this is a typical farmhouse.  I never got a chance to ask him if the original fisherman’s  house was always this big, or was it added on to over the years? I would love to be able to poke about in this attic!  There are spinning wheels, a sewing machine, old chests and trunks, baskets, containers of all sorts, and lots of boxes filled with who knows what? The entry area between our apartment (which used to be a stable), and the living quarters has this big metal door behind the stool.  Upstairs is another  enormous attic that runs the length of the building.
Here there are even more interesting things: old fishing nets, more chests and trunks, old baskets and wooden buckets and vats, and all sorts of interesting things that have probably been there many years.  Now I look at all the houses we drive by and wonder what is up in those attics!  I wonder what treasures might be hidden away in all these old houses?This is only some of the huge woodpile Peter has cut and stacked, ready for the winter.  We think that the air quality here must be very poor in the winter with all the wood burning that takes place.  Most of the houses around here have enormous piles of stacked wood just like this. I went out to pick a few apples to cook for dessert and noticed a pear tree. Most of the pears had fallen and weren’t good to eat but this one pear had landed on a branch and was sitting balanced there, just out of my reach!. One more view out a pretty window.  Bob went for another bike ride this afternoon and I did a bit of blogging and relaxing.  We are both finding it a nice change staying in the country.  It is so quiet and peaceful.  We have enjoyed our time in the cities, but this is a relaxing break from that routine.

Hörsching, Austria

Day 42, Sunday, October 6, 2019

This is our Airbnb in Hörsching, Austria.  After a lovely lazy morning Bob goes for a bike ride on a very old but still serviceable bike.  Our bnb has a lovely wild flower garden out front and there was a little bouquet of the pink roses on our table inside. The green door leads into an entry area, and the three smaller windows are in our apartment. The inside view of the two windows by the green door.  I think the shutters must be original.  The building is 400 years old and our apartment was originally a stable. This is the door opposite the green door, looking out to the back yard. The two big windows of our apartment from the back yard. The farm buildings are connected to the house.  The buildings form a square with the interior yard area you see here.  There is a short fence with a wide gate on one side of this yard.
Everywhere I look there is something interesting. I did get a bit of a shock meeting this fellow in one of the barns. There is a little sitting area if it gets warm enough for us to enjoy it. I spent the afternoon with my three new friends.  It took a while for them to get used to me, but they love bread!  A few slices helped convince them that I was pretty harmless. I spent a couple hours observing, drawing and taking lots of reference pictures.  These sheep do not have wool that is useful for spinning.  The fibres are too short, so they are raised for their meat.  I had never seen sheep with undocked tails before.  I had no ideas their tails were so long.  At times they looked quite dog like.  They are also very fidgety models! When Bob gets back from his ride he makes friends with this fellow but the other two want nothing to do with him.  This sheep is nine months old and the poor guy doesn’t realize he will be butchered soon. His new buddy follows Bob, hoping for just a bit more bread. Years ago I found an old copy of Henry Moore’s Sheep Sketchbook and I have wanted to draw sheep ever since.  I just had no idea how difficult they would be to sketch.  Seems like my idea of what a sheep should look like just isn’t what these sheep actually look like!