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Melk

The main altar at the Abbey Church of the Monastery at Melk.

Many travelers consider a visit to the picturesque Benedictine Abbey at Melk to be the crown jewel of visiting the Wachau. Combining a tour of the Abbey and cruise on the Danube between Krems and Melk is a very special treat.

The Benedictine Abbey sits on a hill above the town of Melk and towers over the Danube River valley.  Although Benedictine Brothers have lived and worked here for over 900 years, the current Baroque Abbey was constructed at the beginning of the 18th century. The Abbey has survived a major fire in the 13th century, the Reformation and Counterreformation.  Indeed, the Benedictines persevered and the Abbey that they built is one of the most popular attractions in  all of Austria.

Of course it has not hurt the reputation of the Melk  Abbey that narrator in Umberto Ecco's  fictional “The Name Of The Rose” was named Adso of Melk and portrayed as a  member of the Benedictines from Melk Abbey.  Note, that the Abbey was not used for filming the movie version of "The Name of the Rose."

     The Melk Abbey is an attractive and interesting destination

The Abbey is open daily, although touring during the winter months is offered only as part of a guided tour.  You can visit on a guided tour or independently from March to the beginning of November.

The tours, which can be purchased at the ticket house near the entrance to the Abbey, are informative and last  about 50 minutes. The guides do a good job of presenting the Abbey and explaining its relationship to the various monarchs and church officials who shepherded its existence through history.

The Imperial Hallway, where the Habsburg resided during their stays at the AbbeyThe tour starts in the “Imperial Chambers”, where various Habsburg Monarch’s stayed while on formal visits. The "royal" chambers have been converted into an eleven room, non-traditional museum. Although you will see some interesting treasures during this part of the tour, we found the design of the exhibits and themes of the  rooms somewhat disorganized an uninteresting.

Several rooms are illuminated with unusual colors of light intended (unsuccessfully) to convey the history of the Abbey.  In  one room the floor undulates up and down to represent the “ups and downs of history” and how they influenced the Abbey.   Regardless, these rooms are part of the tour and after you leave the museum, you will experience the obvious richness of the Abbey at Melk when you see the Library and the Abbey Church.

   One of the treasure of the Abbey on display during the tour.  A Romanesque Crucifix from the late 12th Century

 

The Baroque architecture, size, condition and stunning setting of the Abbey are the main reasons for the site’s popularity. In addition, the The detailed terrestrial globe in the Library at the Melk AbbeyAbbey is well known for its Library that contains over 100,000 volumes.

Its real fame is related to the approximately 1200 hand lettered books created by the brothers of the Benedictine Order from the 9th to the 15th centuries. The calligraphic efforts required to produce one large book,  often took an entire lifetime and sometimes the lifetimes of several monks. The multi-room Library is ornate, decorated with beautiful frescos and houses two antique globes (one terrestrial, the other astronomical) that attract a great deal of attention.


   The outisde of the Library from the Terrace overlooking the Danube at the Melk Abbey  The interior of the Library at the Abbey has many interesting facets to examine

The Abbey offers two other interesting attractions. First, the Marble Hall sports a fine ceiling fresco by Paul Troger (18th century). The room was used by the royals as a ballroom/dining room and is quite attractive.

The ceiling frescos in the nave by Rottmayr are beautifulOutside is the Balcony that leads to the Library and provides an impressive view of the town of Melk, as well as of the Danube. After exiting the Library you will find yourself in a very beautiful church with a famous ceiling fresco by Johann M, Rottmayr, dating from the early 18th century. If you think that parts of the church appear visually over the top, it may be because parts of it were planned by a noted Italian designer of…theaters.

The central dome and main altar are stunning. For those interested, the Latin phrase over the altar “Non Coronabitur Nis Legitme Certaverit” translates “Without a legitimate battle there is no victory”.

For more information about the Benedictine Abbey at Melk, visit the official website.

Our daytrip home page on the Wachau and Krems is here, while our page on Drnstein is here.

 

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Vienna

Getting Started
Best Palaces
Best Churches
Best Music Venues
Best Museums and Galleries
Other Attractions
Best Shopping
Best Cafes
Best Day Trip
History of Vienna

Index of Places To Visit in Vienna

Best Places to Visit in Austria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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