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Maltese church at Spital

Spital is a village that belongs to the municipality of Weitra in the Waldviertel in Lower Austria with about 220 inhabitants.

Spital is one of the oldest places of the region. According to tradition it was originally named "Schön Blumau". Spital was probably founded in the mid 12th century and donated in 1200 by Hadmar II of Kuenring to the Order of St. John's in Prague. After being incorporated into the Commandery of Mailberg, a hostel (hospital) for pilgrims was built at this place, where the major ancient Bohemian commercial road „Böheimsteig“ branches off from the similarly meaningful road to Pölla named „Polansteig”. This hospital gave the village its name.


The village is located about 4 km southeast of Weitra, somewhat aloof from the state road #119 to Grein and is surrounded by forests and meadows. The nearest villages are St. Wolfgang three kilometers to the west and Mistelbach in 1.5 km distance in the southeast. The church of Spital is consecrated to St. John the Baptist and is one of the region's highlights of Romanesque-Gothic architecture.


The village was probably founded in the middle of the 12th century under the sovereignty of the Kuenruings and in 1200 was donated by Hadmar II of Kuenring to the Order of St. John at Prague (the latter Maltese Order). The existence of a hospital at the fork of the above-mentioned two commercial roads Böheim- and Polansteig is mentioned in a documents from 1227. Also the church was probably built in the early 13th century. Anyway, in 1298 Spital was mentioned in a confirmation letter of Leuthold and Albero of Kuenring to the Order of St. John as a parish possessed by this Order. By 1995, the parish was incorporated to the Maltese monastery at Mailberg, and the priest in charge of it is a secular priest employed by the Diocese of Sankt Pölten.

Like most other churches of Romanesque origin in the region, the church is located at the eastern side. It was enlarged in 1400 by a adding an undivided Gothic choir. The church is surrounded by a cemetery with a Romanesque wall. The nave was remodeled in the 15th  century, when a Gothic vault replaced the original flat roof. The nave is made up of four sections with a ribbed vault in the center. The western and eastern pilings was modified in the Baroque era. Especially remarkable is the interior design of the Romanesque tower: paintings from the 14th century (from around 1360) cover lage parts of the wall. They were rediscovered in 1983.