The site

Mauerbach Charterhouse, the Carthusian Monastery of Mauerbach, was founded in 1314 by the Duke of Austria Friedrich der Schöne (Frederick the Fair) from the House of Habsburg, who was later buried at the place. The new monastery was established and consecrated in 1316 by twelve monks under Prior Gottfried, who relocated from Seiz (Žiče, located in current Slovenia). The original Gothic monastery was seriously damaged when the Turks first laid siege to Vienna and by the Neulengbach Earthquake in 1590. The reconstruction of the monastery in the form which it essentially has today began under Abbot Berthold Fasel in 1616 and was completed under Abbot Johannes Werner between 1665 and 1670. The early Baroque interior decoration was extensively destroyed when the Turks attacked again during the second siege of Vienna in 1683 and had to be renewed in the late 17th and 18th centuries. The impressive Baroque monastic complex is one of the most important structures of its kind in Austria today.

After the Mauerbach Charterhouse was abolished by Joseph II in 1782, the monastery was used as a poorhouse and infirmary. The buildings were subsequently adapted for their new function, accommodating up to 800 people. In 1944 / 1945 the former monastery was used as an emergency hospital. Between 1945 and 1961 the monastery was used to house homeless; over hundred families were sheltered there. In 1961 it was acquired by the Austrian Federal Government and remained unused for over twenty years. The monastery was left to decay until it was eventually taken over in 1979 by the Burghauptmannschaft Österreich – the Federal Buildings Authority of Austria. In 1984 a new function was conceived for the ensemble, and it was handed over to the Federal Monument Authority of Austria, thus ensuring the preservation of this protected monument. In 1985 conservation and restoration works at Mauerbach Charterhouse started.

Today the site houses the Information and Training Centre for Heritage Conservation of the Federal Monuments Authority of Austria and the Department of Archaeology of the Federal Monument Authority of Austria. It is now used to hold professional training courses in historic handicraft techniques, scientific seminars, and advanced training on multiple problems of conservation.

The main focus of the Information and Training Centre for Heritage Conservation is the investigation of traditional building techniques, such as lime burning in an experimental kiln, direct slaking, handmade bricks and stone varieties, and traditional materials, like natural sands, lime and hydraulic binders. Additionally, the Information and Training Centre serves also as a hub for testing innovative methods of conservation and restoration, as well as consultation point for owners of heritage sites, conservators, and architects.

The dissemination of this special knowledge to craftsmen, conservators-restorers and architects takes place in context of conferences, seminars, and courses, while the Mauerbach Charterhouse itself functions as the training site. The former monastery, with its various historic surfaces and architectural details, such as windows or floors, is itself undergoing a continuous conservation and restoration process that is occurring gradually, based on a slow and meticulous method that adheres to the best standards and thus setting an example of best practices for heritage conservation in the Republic of Austria. The courses for blacksmiths, engravers, stonemasons, painters, masons, and carpenters held at Mauerbach Charterhouse focus on traditional crafts, while they at the same time raise awareness and promote a respectful approach to handling original structures and substances.

The conservation of architectural surfaces is one of the major topics of the Information and Training Centre for Heritage Conservation. In particular, the Centre has been able to acquire a wide range of experiences in the fields of conservation and restoration of medieval and Baroque rendered façades as well as of plasterwork and decorated renders dating to around 1900. Special courses for restorers-conservators and masons are offered aiming on working with decorative plasterwork dating from 1900 onwards. These courses explore the different composition of mortars, the use of Roman cement and Portland cement for stone imitating plaster, and the application techniques to apply these materials.

The approach in heritage conservation and the educational contents of the courses and seminars at the Information and Training Centre for Heritage Conservation at Mauerbach Charterhouse is summarised in the publication “Standards der Baudenkmalpflege” (“Standards of heritage conservation”) which serves as a guideline for conservation of built heritage in Austria.


The training course

Since several years, the Information and Training Centre for Heritage Conservation at Mauerbach Charterhouse and European Heritage Volunteers jointly organise comprehensive training courses focusing on the conservation and restoration of historic lime plasters. This year, the practical part of the programme will take place at the original Baroque façades surrounding the renowned Emperor's Garden of Mauerbach Charterhouse.

The training course will begin with a detailed analysis of damages, including salt problems, humidity issues, and bio-deterioration. The participants will conduct an initial survey and document the current state of conservation, laying the foundation for developing effective conservation and restoration goals and measures.

The hands-on practical work will encompass a range of tasks such as lime slaking, mortar and plaster mixing with diverse aggregates, lime-technique consolidation, injections of lime slurry and liquid lime mortar, salt reduction methods, pigment preparation, and the application of lime wash and paints.

The team of technical instructors and teachers consists of experienced professionals, including restorers specialised in architectural surfaces, restoration scientists, and master craftsmen. With over thirty years of expertise in the field, they bring a wealth of knowledge and practical skills to the training course.

In addition to the practical training, participants will benefit from engaging lectures on relevant topics. To further enhance their understanding, an excursion to heritage sites owned by Burghauptmannschaft Österreich will be organised. These sites have recently undergone or are currently undergoing conservation measures, providing valuable real-world examples of conservation and restoration practices.

The training course offers a unique opportunity for participants to gain in-depth knowledge and hands-on experience in the conservation and restoration of historic lime plasters, preparing them for future endeavours in the field of heritage conservation.


The training course will take place from July 22nd to August 03rd, 2024, and is organised by the Information and Training Centre for Heritage Conservation of the Federal Monument Authority of Austria in cooperation with European Heritage Volunteers, and the Burghauptmannschaft Österreich.




European Heritage Volunteers