The Monastery Church

The monastery church in San Candido/Innichen is the finest example of Romanesque ecclesiastical architecture in the eastern Alps. Construction works to build the church began around 1143 when the Benedictine friary of St. Candidus - founded in the 8th century by Tassilo III, Duke of Bavaria - was converted into a collegiate monastery. In 1280 it acquired its present appearance, and between 1320 and 1326 the bell tower was added. The monumental stonework of the church is reminiscent of the fortifications built by the Crusaders and the many castles constructed during the reign of the Hohenstaufen dynasty, when churches were designed as castles for God.
The interior

One look at the three naves of the church shows how Romanesque art strives to structure space and the way it is perceived with more abundancy, by creating harmony between the supporting structural elements and the load they bear. In doing so, it incorporates a transept where the intersection with the main nave is overarched by a dome. The design recreates the deeply religious experience of the medieval churchgoer, who in all visible things saw only an umbral yet transcendental likeness of the eternal kingdom. Just like the exterior, the inside too is dominated by imposing masonry symbolising the pious earthly pilgrim's unswerving faith: Like a fortress, faith protects mankind from the dangers of the world.

stiftskirche-web9
stiftskirche-web10
stiftskirche-web11
The Crucifixion Group

The Crucifixion Group, one of the most significant medieval sculptures and the work of a master woodcarver from the eastern Pusteria/Pustertal valley, was created during the first half of the 13th century. The crucified figure is depicted not as a fatally tortured man but as the regal vanquisher of suffering and death – as the rising son of God.

stiftskirche-web13
stiftskirche-web12
stiftskirche-web14
The south portal
The south portal is among the finest examples of Romanesque plastic art. The sculpture in the arch dates back to the mid-13 th century and shows Christ as Judge of the world, surrounded by the symbols of the Evangelists. Dating from around 1450, the frescoes are the work of the Pusteria/Pustertal valley’s own Michael Pacher, one of the great masters of the Late Gothic period. They portray the monastery's patron saints – Candidus and Corbinian – as well as Emperor Otto I, founder of the Prince-Bishopric of Freising in Innichen, which existed until 1803.
stiftskirche-web15
stiftskirche-web17
stiftskirche-web16
The main portal
The sculpted ornaments decorating the enormous main portal date back to 1250. When the sculptures on the arch were destroyed around 1725, they were replaced with an oil painting of Emperor Otto I, Duke Tassilo III of Bavaria and his wife Liutberga by an unknown artist. The frieze also contains symbols: doves and vine branches on the right side representing good as well as a goat and a snake on the left as symbols of evil.
stiftskirche-web18
stiftskirche-web19
stiftskirche-web20
The dome fresco
The dome fresco is the largest Romanesque monumental fresco still in existence. It shows the history of creation as it is told in the bible: God creates light and separates it from darkness. He creates the sun, the moon and the stars. He separates the waters and creates land, plants, the animals and finally humanity. In the last picture, we see the first human couple being driven out of paradise: sinners in need of salvation. This truly marvellous series of pictures was painted around 1280. This scene shows the creation of the animals. Another interesting detail: the painter included himself wearing a hooded headpiece.
The crypt

The crypt beneath the high choir was built during the 12th century and vaulted after 1200. According to medieval notions, the church nave symbolised life on earth, while the crypt represented purgatory and the high choir heaven. The crypt served primarily as a place to pray for the souls doing penance in purgatory, but it was also used as the final resting place of provosts and deans. Some of the pillar capitals may be part of the church built by Duke Tassilo III of Bavaria upon founding the Benedictine monastery in the 8th century. The statue of St. Candidus, the monastery's patron saint, was created by a local sculptor around 1240.

stiftskirche-web22
stiftskirche-web21
stiftskirche-web23