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Introducing Kremsmünster

Looming large above the fertile Krems Valley, Kremsmünster’s majestic Benedictine abbey dates from 777, but was given a baroque facelift in the 18th century. Elaborate stuccowork and frescoes shape the long, low Bibliothek (library), where shelves creak under 160,000 volumes, and the Kaisersaal (Emperor’s Hall). The most prized piece in the Schatzkammer (treasury) is the gold Tassilo Chalice, which the Duke of Bavaria donated to the monks in about 780. You can visit all three on a one-hour guided tour.

The other star attraction is the 50m-high Sternwarte, dedicated to numerous schools of natural history. Spanning seven floors, the mind-boggling collection steps from fossilised starfish to the skeleton of an ice age cave bear. It’s a giddy climb up a spiral staircase to the top floor, which displays the Keppler sextant and affords a bird’s-eye perspective of Kremsmünster and the gently rolling countryside.

What can be seen without greasing the palms of the abbey with silver is the Stiftskirche, a baroque church extravagantly adorned with lacy stucco, Flemish tapestries and frescoes. The 17th-century cloisters contain the Fischbehälter containing five fish ponds, each centred on a mythological statue. The trickling of water is calming and you can feed the carp for €1.