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 each year who come to see the huge Melk Abbey. Regardless of whether you arrive at Melk Abbey by land or water, you cannot avoid being mightily impressed by the grande splendour of the monestary.
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 located 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 today dates from the first half of the 18th century.
Spiritual and material riches
An extraordinary experience is the daily Benedictine prayer session, that takes place from April 1 to October 31, where visitors can also attend. Furthermore, we recommend the exhibitions showing the monastery’s treasury, archives and library that gives 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
Definitely make time to see the magnificent abbey from the inside as well. During the period April – November, the monastery is open to the public 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 fabulous library with more than 100,000 volumes containing very old and rare religious writings. Moreover, the exhibits are not only about the religious history, but also hosts many great works of art. The frescoes you find all around the monastery will surely take your breath away. Hence, don’t forget to look up at the roof when you wander through.
The large beautiful park makes up a large part of the extensive monastery facility. Originally designed as a baroque park in 1750 and in 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 park and pavilions were used by the monks for meditation and a place to relax. Today, most of the park is publicly available. You also can visit only the monastery park for and just pay only 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 a nice place where you easily can 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’s around as well.
For more info: Melk Abbey & Melk Town
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