CHAPTER 2 – Melk Abbey, Wachau Valley, Melk, Austria

“I travel because seeing photos in brochures wasn’t good enough for me. It was to be there, that was everything.”
Wiremu Ratcliffe


Visiting Melk was a short 3 or 4-hour trip in April. The town itself is very small, but the main thing that functions as a magnet for tourists is its huge Baroque Abbey that also belongs to UNESCO’s world cultural heritage. And that’s where I was headed.

Melk is a small town west of Vienna with slightly over 5 thousand residents. It has a cozy little quasi-old town with a few cafes and small shops. Life seems to slow down when you’re there. Nobody is in a hurry, people take pictures, sip coffee, eat ice cream, and chat with one another. It’s all rather quiet and the conversations don’t turn into noise, they sound more like some kind of pleasant distant buzzing.

Pfarramt – Catholic Church
The way to the Abbey

The aforementioned 11th century Abbey presides over the town and the Danube River nearby. When the weather’s sunny, its orange paint dazzles your eyes like sun, making the day seem even brighter. The Abbey used to be a place where Benedictine monks prayed, worked, and learned, following the idea of ora et labora et lege. It is sometimes called a jewel of Lower Austria, however, the jewel within a jewel is its beautiful library containing around 16 000 volumes. When you’re inside the library and you look up, you can see a beautiful fresco painted by an Austrian painter Paul Troger.
It is said that when writing his famous novel The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco was being inspired by the Abbey and its monastic library in particular.

When you want to visit the monastery you can expect to see a few “parts”, for instance the Abbey Museum, the Marble Hall, the Imperial Staicase and Corridor, the Library, the Balcony, various exhibitions, or the Abbey Church (which is the last part of the visit). Depending on how interested you are, the visit can take up to 2 hours, especially when the weather’s nice as you spend quite a bit of time on the terrace admiring the view on the Danube and the town itself.

Visitors aren’t allowed to take photographs inside the Abbey and all its parts/rooms. You can try, but as there are lots of guided tours, you will probably be told off by the. I had the misfortune of being surounded by guided groups of visitors and didn’t manage to take any photos. Well, I did take a few but as they were taken in a hurry, the quality is not satisfactory 😉

the entrance to the courtyard
The courtyard
the terrace
The “upper” courtyard leading to the terrace
the staircase leading to the Abbey Church downstairs
The inside of the church (you aren’t allowed to take photos in there, hence the poor quality – no time)

Here’s some additional info in case you’re interested in visiting the Abbey:

ADULTS € 12,50 (without guide), € 14,50 (guided tour)
PUPILS & STUDENTS UP TO 27 with student ID € 8,50 (without guide), € 6,50 (guided tour)
Address: Abt-Berthold-Dietmayr-Straße 1, 3390 Melk, Austria
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 9 AM – 4 PM
The description of the whole tour of the Abbey Museum is here.
More price info here.

See You on the next pages,


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