Melk Abbey in Austria, baroque monastery in the Wachau

Melk Abbey main entrance

Melk Abbey in Austria

(Advertising) It is one of the highlights on the Danube in the Wachau: Melk Abbey in Austria. It is now part of Austria's UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you approach Melk Monastery from the Danube or via the motorway from the north, it towers like a stronghold over the place that bears the name of the monastery.

 

Castle Melk
Castle Melk of the Babenbergs

Melk Abbey grew out of a castle

You are not wrong with this assumption. Because originally there was actually a castle on the site of the Benedictine monastery. In 955, Otto the Great handed over the Ostland to Luitpold from Babenberg. The Ostmark came into being, which was first referred to in the chronicles as Ostarrichi in 996. Melk Castle initially belonged to Bavarian counts. However, the Babenbergs soon took over the castle. Art objects from this dynasty can still be found in the monastery's possession today.

 

 

It was also the Babenbergs who helped Melk Abbey to become its own saint. In 1014 Henry I had the body of St. Bring Koloman to Melk. According to legend, he was a king's son from Ireland. He had been arrested in Stockerau as a spy and hanged on an elder tree.

Not much remains of the Babenberg castle. Only the two castle towers are still standing and tower over the Danube as ever.

 

 

Baroque Abbey Melk
Baroque splendor in Melk Abbey - the main portal

Baroque splendor in Melk Abbey

The Babenberg period was followed by economic decline and a decline in morals in the Melk monastery. A fire destroyed almost the entire monastery. The plague, crop failures and other plagues did the rest. The Melk reform in the 15th century led to a brief recovery. However, these destroyed the Reformation and the Turkish wars in the 16th century. It was only during the Counter-Reformation that the monastery was able to build up an economic base that made it possible to rebuild the monastery in the Baroque style. Melk Abbey experienced its heyday with the conversion of the monastery in the Baroque style according to plans by Jakob Prandtauer. It took only 40 years to convert the monastery to its baroque splendor. Even another fire could not stop the completion.

 

 

The Age of Enlightenment caused a reorientation in Melk Abbey. A high school moved in. No own abbot could be elected. Instead, a commander-abbot moved in. The emperor appointed a prior who was responsible for the monastic economy. After the Napoleonic Wars, the modernization of the monastery began. The baroque buildings have been restored. Actually, the renewal of the buildings is a permanent process. Girls were allowed to attend classes in high school. A student exchange with a Benedictine school in America began. Tourism contributes a lot to the financing of these measures.

 

Stiftspark from the north bastion
Stiftspark from the north bastion

Visit to Melk Abbey

View from the roof of the North Bastion

The best place to start a tour of Melk Abbey is from the roof of the north bastion. You can reach this via the lift from the monastery shop. From above you have a good view of the former Melk Castle, the baroque main building and the monastery park with its garden pavilion.

 

The Prälatenhof in Melk Abbey Austria
The prelate's court in the Melk monastery

The Prelates' Court

Through the main portal (see third photo from above) you reach the Prälatenhof. This is located in the center of the monastery complex. The high school is located in the building today.

 

Kaisergang in Melk Abbey Austria
Kaisergang in Melk Abbey, Austria

The Kaiserstiege and the Kaisergang

Empress Maria Theresa and Emperor Franz Stephan of Lorraine were guests at Melk Abbey several times. Their portraits hang at the foot of the Kaiserstiege in the Kaisergang. If you follow the Kaisergang, you can see paintings of other rulers from Austria from the Babenbergs to the Habsburgs.

The Kaiserstiege leads up to the Kaiserzimmer on the first floor. It now houses the Museum of Melk Abbey.

 

Magnificently presented - statues in the Abbey Museum of Melk
Magnificently presented – statues in the Melk Abbey Museum

 

Kaiserzimmer (Monastery Museum of Melk Abbey)

The abbey museum is located in the rooms where emperors once stayed when they visited Melk Abbey. This shows how important Melk Abbey was in history. There you can see the art treasures of the monastery. You will also learn more about the current role of the pen.

 

The Marble Hall
The Marble Hall

The Marble Hall

The Marble Hall, which follows the museum, is worth seeing. This hall serves as a party and dining room. Although it is referred to as the Marble Hall, only the door frames and the overlays over the doors are made of real marble. The walls, on the other hand, are painted by Gaetano Fanti. The ceiling painting by Paul Troger is also worth a look.

 

The Altane
The Altane

The terrace with a view of the Danube

Leaving the Marble Hall, one arrives at the balcony, a terrace that leads over to the library. From here you have a magnificent view of the Danube.

 

Abbey Library of Melk Abbey
Abbey Library of Melk Abbey

The abbey library of Melk Abbey

When entering the Abbey Library of Melk Abbey, my breath catches. Under the ceiling fresco by Paul Troger are the bookcases with their marquetry work. The figures next to the doors represent the four faculties: jurisprudence, medicine, philosophy and theology. The abbey library has around 100.000 volumes, 1.200 manuscripts from the 9th to 15th centuries, 600 manuscripts from the 17th and 18th centuries and 750 incunabula. Interesting manuscripts from the library fund are displayed in the showcases.

 

Ceiling painting by Paul Troger in the Melk Abbey library
Ceiling painting by Paul Troger in the Melk Abbey library

 

In 2022 the restoration of the stocks of the Melk library will start. Among other things, a new manuscript chamber and an extension of the library premises are planned. Librarians and restorers sift through and clean the book inventory from centuries. A Sisyphean task for which 10 years are planned. The cost of the project is 12 million euros. The project is financed, among other things, by sponsoring companies, book sponsorships, the sale of facsimiles and merchandise products. Anyone wishing to provide support can contact the Ex Litteris Immortalitas Förderverein for further information. E-mail: exlitteris@stiftmelk.at.

 

Herbal book from 1609
Herbal book from 1609

The guided tour through Melk Abbey, which every visitor can take, ends here. As part of our press trip, we are allowed to look behind the scenes of the library. Bernadette Kalteis and Johannes Deibl are working on this project. They show us books that are being restored. This herb book from the year 1609 is one of them.

 

Altar room of the Melk Collegiate Church
Altar room of the Melk Collegiate Church

The collegiate church in Melk

A visit to Melk Abbey is not complete without a visit to the collegiate church. It is best to do this at 12.00:XNUMX p.m. for the noon prayers of the monks. This lasts half an hour and allows an insight into the everyday life of the monks. At the same time, there is the opportunity to review the previous impressions from Melk Abbey, Austria, in front of your inner eye. During our visit, a guitar player accompanied the monks' choral singing. Not only did we like that, but also the young guests from all over the world.

 

Ceiling painting by Johann Michael Rottmayr
Ceiling painting by Johann Michael Rottmayr

The ceiling painting by the Tyrolean artist Johann Michael Rottmayr is also magnificent to look at. The Italian theater engineer Antonio Beduzzi designed the side altars like chapels.

 

Melker Morgentau from the monastery shop in Melk
Melker Morgentau from the monastery shop in Melk

Shopping in the monastery shop

Before we enjoy our lunch in the monastery gastronomy, we make a detour to the monastery shop. In addition to postcards showing the monastery, you can buy products from the monastery and the monastery garden there. We are particularly fond of the herbs and medicinal plants that are processed into liqueurs, herbal salts, chocolate and other products.

 

roasted pork with dumplings
roasted pork with dumplings

 

Lunch in the restaurant at Melk Abbey

After this enjoyment of art, culinary enjoyment must not be neglected. With a bit of luck we'll get a table on the terrace. However, it is better to reserve a table. After the Corona period, the number of visitors is guaranteed to increase again. We order a roast pork with dumplings. We were served a huge portion, which is guaranteed to satisfy even the biggest hunger.

 

Garden café at Melk Abbey
Garden café at Melk Abbey

The abbey park and the garden pavilion

At the end of our visit to Melk Abbey, we take some time for a walk through the abbey park. You can take a 70-minute tour of the park. We went through this on our trip three monastery gardens in Lower Austria did. We don't have that much time this time. However, we do not want to miss a visit to the garden pavilion. The exotic frescoes by Johann Wenzel Bergl are always worth a visit. If you feel like it and have time, you can enjoy coffee and cake there.

Parking

With the entrance ticket you can park for free. You must validate the parking ticket when purchasing the ticket.

Entrance fees to Melk Abbey

  • Adults € 13.00
  • Family ticket € 26.00 (1 parent or grandparent and children up to 16 years)
  • Pupils, students, military/civil servants € 6.50 (up to 27 years with ID)

Guided tours in Melk Abbey

  • Classic monastery tour (approx. 50 minutes, several times a day)
  • Themed tours (every Saturday, April to October
    • Lucas Cranach in Melk Abbey (2022) 15.30 p.m., duration approx. 70 minutes, € 20.00
    • Melk Abbey Park, a natural beauty 17.30 p.m., duration approx. 70 minutes, € 20.00

 

You need this to visit Melk Abbey

  • Comfortable Shoes for wide feetwhere you can walk well even on rough paths
  • A backpack is definitely practical for everything you need on the go.
  • The region offers beautiful photo opportunities. Therefore you should have yours Camera .

 

Do you like to travel by motorhome?

- Do you want to rent a motorhome? Then you will find information here and booking options. Or would you prefer to stay overnight roof tent on the car? Also the overnight stay in camping tent is possible.
- Check with ours packing list for camperswhether you have packed everything for your motorhome tour. Then you are ready for your weekend in the Wachau.
- You want to know where to go with a motorhome stay in Europe can and are you looking for parking spaces and campsites? You can find information about this under this link.
– A campsite Melk, Kolomaniau 3, 3390 Melk, Austria. There you can after a day trip in a Dutch Oven  or on the portable grill after a day trip .
-Why is a folding e-bike useful when camping?

 

You need this for a hike at Melk Abbey in the Wachau

 


Travel Arrangements:

Arrival by plane, public transport or car to Melk Abbey, Austria

Book yours here Arrival by plane, bus or train*. The nearest airport is Vienna Schwechat. From there you can travel to Melk by rental car or public transport. There is a train station in Melk.

Car Rentals:

Cheap rental cars - book here! *


 

Melk Abbey in Austria
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Source: On-site research. We thank Klösterreich and Melk Abbey for the invitation to this trip. However, our opinion is our own.

Text: Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline
Photos: Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline

Melk Abbey in Austria, baroque monastery in the Wachau
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