10. April 2012 22:44
You may not expect to find a tourism attraction at at Catholic monastery, much less one in suburban Georgia. But in Conyers, the Monastery of the Holy Spirit has become a must-see location for groups touring the area.
A group of Trappist monks from Kentucky established this monastery decades ago, living in a barn and doing farm work in the nearby fields. Over the years, the monastery grew to include a church, workshops and more comfortable living quarters. Several years ago, the monks decided to embrace tourism as a means of creating some revenue and giving the public a look into their interesting lifestyle.
Today, the monks have created a first-rate visitor experience. The old barn in which they once lived has been transformed into the Monastic Heritage Center, with a great museum-style exhibit that details a day in the life of a monk. Visitors can see an example of the brothers' early sleeping quarters, some of the clothes that they wear, and the different trades that they ave learned to help make the monastery as self-sustaining as possible. The exhibits also outline the monks' daily schedule, from their first prayer service at 4:15 a.m. through their community meals and nighttime rituals.
After an introduction in the museum, group members have a number of options. They can visit the monastery's abbey — a sparsely decorated church by Catholic standards — and even join in a mass or prayer service if one is in session. They can also tour the gardens, where some of the brothers have honed their skills as master bonsai sculptors, or visit the on-site bookstore. A cafe adjacent to the bookstore sells deli sandwiches and other snacks, and gives diners an opportunity to have a peaceful, reflective meal.
It's funny to think about tourism and monastic life working well together. But at the monastery of the Holy Spirit, the brothers seem to have struck the perfect balance.
Monastic Heritage Center
A display of historic monks' habits.
The abbey's colorful, geomtric stained-glass windows.
22. July 2009 20:22
Salzburg, Austria is a city with lots to see and do, including a mountaintop fortress and the birthplace and childhood home of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. But one of the most interesting facets of our visit there today was dinner at St. Peter’s Restaurant, which is well over a thousand years old.
Founded in the year 803, St. Peter’s is the oldest restaurant in Austria, and many locals claim that it is the oldest in Europe or even in the world. The restaurant has hosted a wide range of history’s most important people from Charlemagne and Christopher Columbus to U.S. president Bill Clinton.
The restaurant is part of St. Peter’s Monastery, which was also founded around the same time, and which is still home to a number of active monks. The monastery owns and operates the restaurant, which was originally carved into the side of the mountain that the monastery sits on.
Today, there are many more rooms to the restaurant, and some of them are quite elegant. But guests can still eat in the large cavers which were hollowed out from the side of the rock if they wish. It’s a dining experience that few other cities – in Austria or elsewhere – can offer.