The Benedictine Melk Abbey overlooking the Danube is an impressive place. Not only the stunning Baroque architecture but also its 1000-year history attracts numerous visitors to the UNESCO World Heritage site every year.
The small town of Melk by the Danube receives tens of thousands of visitors yearly who see the huge Melk Abbey. However, regardless arrive at Melk Abbey by land or water; you cannot avoid being mightily impressed by the grand splendour of the monastery.
Melk was, for the first time, mentioned in written sources in the year 831. The Babenberg family (which ruled Austria before the Habsburgs) built a castle on the cliff where the monastery is today around 980. In the year 1089, the first monks found their way to Melk in Lower Austria and set up a monastery in the old castle, which was given to them by Count Leopold II. The baroque architecture you see dates today from the first half of the 18th century.
Spiritual and material riches
An extraordinary experience is the daily Benedictine prayer session, which takes place from April 1 to October 31, which visitors can attend. Furthermore, we recommend the exhibitions showing the monastery’s treasury, archives and library that give you an insight into the life of the clergy back to the monastery’s early beginnings.
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Antique writings and marvellous frescos
Make time to see the magnificent abbey from the inside as well. The monastery is open to the public from April to November, with or without a guide. The tour takes approx. 1 hour and costs € 14,50 (€ 12,50 without guide). On a tour, you can admire the great library with more than 100,000 volumes containing ancient and rare religious writings.
Moreover, the exhibits are not only about religious history but also host many great works of art. The frescoes you find all around the monastery will take your breath away. Hence, don’t forget to look at the roof when you wander through.
The sizeable beautiful park is a large part of the extensive monastery facility. Initially designed as a baroque park in 1750 and 1822, it was replanted as an English landscape garden. Visit the Garden of Paradise, where fragrant, medicinal, or flowering grows all year round, that have been planted according to plans by Walafrid Strabo (9th century). The monks used the park and pavilions for meditation and as a place to relax. Today, most of the park is publicly available. However, you can also visit only the monastery park and pay only for entrance to the park.
The small-town Melk
Although it is undeniably the abbey that is the main tourist magnet, do not forget to take a stroll in Melk itself. The small town at the foot of the monastery is an excellent place where you can easily spend an hour or three. The small pedestrian zone between Hauptplatz and Rathausplatz takes you past the oldest parts of Melk. At the Rathausplatz (Town Hall Square), you will find the Kolomanibrunnen (well) from 1687. In Linzer Strasse, you can also find many fine historic buildings. There are plenty of eateries and café around as well.
For more info: Melk Abbey & Melk Town
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