The work deals with selected altars from the Austrian alpine regions, which, by virtue of their size and monumental nature, represent exceptional works in special ways.In the first part, the work starts by addressing the history of the origin of altars and the respective research status. Because an altar does not occur in isolation, the surrounding environment is also considered in each case.Proceeding from a pure data documentation, a significant goal of this dissertation is to depict altars as cultural witnesses to history. Influenced by the Council of Trent, the tabernacle was integrated into the altar because the Sacrament of the Eucharist now constituted the centre of the catholic faith and the focus of ecclesiastical life. This reformation lead to the tearing down of old altars and the creation of new, counter-reformation influenced high altars. In most cases, the Mother of God, whose veneration was supported and practiced by many orders, above all the Cistercian order, occupied the centre of these altars. Bernhard of Clairvaux had already venerated Mary in his sermons.The faithful were to be convinced of the catholic faith and its supremacy through special displays of splendour. The design and use of the altars as stages to convey the narrative of Christian salvation to the faithful was moreover also attempted. In this context, it must be explained that the altar figure programs comprise carefully considered compositions and not random collections of holy figures. Such programs are dealt with in more detail using selected examples. A further important aspect of this dissertation, starting out from a stylistic comparison of the altars, is also to consider the work of the artists that made them - as far as this has been handed down - and their cultural surroundings.