Less than a half hour from Vienna is the Heiligenkreuz Abbey, the second-oldest Cistercian monastery in the world and the oldest continuously active and inhabited one. It was founded in 1133 by St. Leopold III and is located in the peaceful Vienna woods in Lower Austria. The Cistercian monks here gather several times a day to praise God by singing a Gregorian chant without accompaniment as a way to strengthen their sense of community. Visitors to the monastery are welcome to listen and watch this medieval ritual.
Due to its continuous use, Heiligenkreuz Abbey has been well preserved. Visitors can still see the Romanesque nave and facade, the Gothic cloister, and the neo-Gothic high altar. There are also several Baroque paintings. Visitors can also see the tombs of four ruling dukes of the Babenbergs in the late Romanesque chapter room. In the courtyard, there is the Trinity column and the Josefbrunnen fountain. Several hiking trails lead to the monastery and through the surrounding forest.
Heiligenkreuz Abbey is located in Heiligenkreuz, Austria and can be reached using route A21. Entry is only allowed as part of a group tour. Guided tours are available Monday through Saturday at 10am, 11am, 2, 3, and 4pm, and on Sundays at 11am, 2, 3, and 4pm. Admission is 8 euros.