A spring day at Novacella Abbey in South Tyrol

Novacella Abbey, located near Brixen, is one of those places that you never get tired of visiting. I’ve spent my holidays in South Tyrol for many years, but I always marvel at the sight which meets my eyes when I round the bend where the road leads down to Novacella. The Romanesque church with its bell tower is surrounded by vineyards and framed by the mountains. In spring, the blossoming trees add more colours to a historical site that is consider one of the wonders of the world. 

Novacella Abbey in South Tyrol

The history of Novacella Abbey

Founded by the blessed bishop of Brixen, Hartmann, in 1142, Novacella Abbey is an Augustinian monastery that treasures many memories and artworks. Housing a school, the abbey became an important centre of education in Tyrol. The library with its many volumes witnesses the role of Novacella in the cultural context of this region. The monastery included an hospice and a place of pilgrimage, and established itself as one of the most important spiritual centers in Europe. Today it is still home to a community of Canons and maintains itself economically through agriculture.

Visiting the abbey

To visit the abbey, you need to join a guided tour that is included in the Brixen Card. From the church to the cloisters, you will travel through time. The church represents the southern-most example of German late Baroque architecture, with surprising colours and decorations. I was particularly struck by the library, though. Its incredibly high ceiling and shelves, to me, are a metaphor of the power of culture. The courtyard houses a well, decorated with the seven wonders of the word plus one (Novacella itself). Before leaving, I never forget to pay a visit to the abbey shop. Herbs, honey and jams are produced and sold here, along with some of the most renowned wines of South Tyrol. There are also beauty products made with organic ingredients.

Blossoming tree at Novacella Abbey

The gardens

At the entrance of the monastery complex, the gardens capture the visitor’s eye. The abbey is home to  old gingko trees and thousands of flowers and herbs, which grow around a fountain. When I happen to be there in springtime, I can’t help taking pictures of the blossoming trees. Their pink flowers add to the charm of Novacella Abbey, a place that can only be described as “full of wonders.”