Engelszell Abbey (Stift Engelszell) is the only Trappist monastery in Austria. It was founded in 1293 by Bernhard of Prambach, Bishop of Passau, as a Cistercian monastery. It suffered a decline in the period of the Reformation and for a time passed into private ownership. From 1618 onwards the intervention and support of Wilhering Abbey gradually restored it. In 1699 however, a disastrous fire plunged it once again into financial difficulties and from 1720 its management was in the hands of administrators. In 1746 Leopold Reichl, the last and greatest of Engelszell's abbots of the Common Observance, was appointed; he rebuilt its finances and also built the present abbey church. In 1786 however, Engelszell was dissolved by Emperor Joseph II and the buildings subsequently put to several secular uses, including as a factory and as a residence.
It was re-founded as a Trappist monastery in 1925 by refugee German monks expelled after World War I from Oelenberg Abbey in Alsace. In 1939 the abbey was confiscated by the Gestapo and the community, numbering 73, evicted. Four monks were sent to Dachau Concentration Camp, while others were imprisoned elsewhere or drafted into the Wehrmacht At the end of the war in 1945, only about a third of the previous community returned. They were augmented however by refugee German Trappists. As of 2012, the number of monks in the community was 7.
The monastery lives mostly on income from its agricultural produce. It has become known both for its liqueurs and for its cheese, Engelszeller Trappistenkäse. In May 2012, the International Trappist Association approved Engelszell to be the 8th producer of Trappist beer, and only the second outside of Belgium.
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