The monastery was founded in 1163 by margrave Ottokar III in gratitude for the birth of his son and heir. The monastery was built by the archbishop Eberhard I of Salzburg. He had also sent the first monks from his monastery in St. Rupert to Vorau. Because of its location between the Wechsel in the north, the Masenberg in the south and the nearness to the east Styrian border Vorau has always been a very turbulent area. The monastery and its land had almost constantly been threatened by the Hungarian, Slovenes and Turkish invasions.
As a result of this constant threat the monastery was secured by many defence towers, a moat and the iron bars at the entrance gate which you can still see today. Especially in the 15th century, the people who lived in the surrounding area found protection within the walls of the monastery. Today the monastery of Vorau has 15 towers, more than any other monastery in Austria.
In April 1940 the monastery was confiscated by the NS-Regime. So the monks were forced to leave. In 1945 when the Russian army occupied the east Styrian area the monastery was bombed and about 50% of the monastery were destroyed. Mostly affected were the farm buildings. About 5000 books were stolen from the library and all collections were heavily damaged. The church itself remained intact. In May 1945 the first monks returned to the monastery. Nowadays the principal duty of the monks is counselling.
Today the monastery is not used by the monks alone. There is a school for domestic science (home economics), an adult education centre, a tavern and some apartments for private families. Above the entrance door of the church you can read a Latin inscription that stands for: “This is the house of God where the name of the Lord is invoked.”