Saturday, February 26, 2011

Austria: Melk Abbey

Melk Abbey

In 2004, I took a vacation to Austria. One of my favorite destinations was Melk Abbey (Stift Melk in German). Located between Vienna and Salzburg along the Danube River, Melk Abbey sits high on a rocky promontory. Originally a palace, it is both vibrant, opulent, and a must see if you are in the area.

The exterior, which retains its facade from the abbey's days as a palace

The inner courtyard

A close up of the fountain and dome

On this trip I fell in love with Baroque architecture. The marble columns, heavy gold filigree, and frescoes ceilings are hedonistic and outrageous. They evolved to express the Catholic Church's might as a state and not just as a religion.

An interior shot of the Abbey Church. I fantasized about placing a bed large enough for me and 4 courtiers in the middle of the nave. Sunk in feathers and covered in silks, I could gaze up at the cupola as I drifted off to sleep.

A frescoed ceiling

The library is two stories tall and filled with priceless medieval works. Every house should have a library like this!

A painted starcase

Melk is still a Benedictine monastery and monks still wander its halls. They isolate themselves, however, so don't expect to hear the swishing of robes on the tile floors.

The Emperor's Gallery. This simple hallway seemed more suited to a monk's life than the elaborate churches in the other part of the Abbey.

View of the town below. The Danube River is just out of site to the right.

An exterior sculpture

We had a wonderful lunch after a tour of the Abbey in a small restaurant near the town. I was on a low carb kick on this trip so I avoided the beer and woofed down large portions of protein, but my travel companion was under no such restrictions and ordered a beer that came in the size of a tanker truck. Our hostess spoke no English but we were learning German quickly and managed to order without incident. One thing I love about the Austrians is their habit of saying Gross Gott for a greeting instead of Guten Tag.


John and Ellen said...

Wonderful post, thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed the photos and your descriptions!


Web 2.0 Design said...

Interesting post. I really enjoy this post.. Thanks for sharing this...

Linda said...

If the architecture looks so powerful to us today, just imagine the effect on people when it was built.
My husband spent a year in Salzburg as part of his German degree, which is why he speaks fluent Austrian rather than German!