Masonry Museum in Austria
The Castle of Rosenau
"Schloss Rosenau", the only Freemasons museum in Austria is because of its site and its architecture a cultural centre of the "Waldviertel". It is located nine kilometres west of the town of Zwettl in the federal province of Lower Austria.
This Renaissance castle was built by Mr. Greiss from 1589 to 1593 and was first documentarily mentioned in 1593. In the middle of the 18th century Count Leopold Christoph Schallenberg reconstructed the castle in a baroque stile according to the plan and building supervision of the famous architect Munggenast. After his son Count Josef Schallenberg has sold the domain in 1803, the ownership has changed a number of times.
During World War II and in particular during the time of the Russian occupation the building suffered considerably. In a desolate condition it was eventually purchased by the federal province of Lower Austria. An association was set up to restore the building to its baroque splendour and to prepare it for a museum.
The most important discovery during the interior restoration were the decorated rooms on the first floor in the southern part that once had been a freemasons meeting place. This unique find with its signed frescos prompted the association to set up a Masonic museum in the rooms in which a Lodge had met in the 18th century.
Many of the questions surrounding the original Lodge have remained, as yet unanswered. No documents belonging to Count Schallenberg have been discovered yet. While some information can be found in the chronicles referring to the castle, the most basic indication to the existence of the Lodge is the arrangement of Masonic symbols such as square and compasses.
A feature unusual for the time is that these rooms are very strikingly but simply decorated; in the baroque period rooms of any importance normally were decorated very rich and exuberantly, but this artistic simplicity lies the force of its symbolism.
One exit from the Lodge room leads directly into the oratory of the castle chapel, a juxtaposition that has caused some to cast doubt upon the very existence of a Lodge. However at a time in Austria's history, freemasons and clergy could and did coexist in harmony, indeed as they have always done in many other parts of the world.
The Lodge probably ceased to meet during the reign of Joseph II. who only authorised Lodges to operate in the administrative centres of the Austrian Empire.
Some more details:
A - 3924 Schloss Rosenau / Zwettl - NOe
Tel.: (+43) 2822 - 58221
Fax: (+43) 2822 - 58221-8
The museum is open for visitors from April to end of October, every day from 9:00am - 5:00pm
Adults: 45,-- ATS (=4.5 US$)
Children: 25,-- ATS
Guided Tours: +15,-- ATS
Schloss Rosenau is located about 130 KM (80 miles) from Vienna.