Wednesday, May 23, 2012

May 9 - Melk Austria

After lunch, once the gaggle of geese have stuffed their faces and ensured they have the best (front) seats on the bus, did they not listen to the instructions that people should rotate their seats so that everyone gets an opportunity to sit in the front seats for the view??

  It is only a few minutes drive by bus to the abbey. Our first magnificent view looking down the staircase.
It has not hurt the reputation of the Melk Abbey that narrator in Umberto Ecco's fictional “The Name Of The Rose” was named Adso of Melk and portrayed as a member of the Benedictines from Melk Abbey. Note, that the Abbey was not used for filming the movie version of "The Name of the Rose" even though many sites claim it was.


Melk, a slavic word for "border," sits along the Danube River and has always been an important spiritual center for this part of Austria. The Abbey's monks base their beliefs on St. Benedictine's writings and each day begins with these teachings - pray and work and read. In 976 AD, Leopold I made this site his home. Then, in 1089, Leopold II gave the castle to the Benedictine Monks and ever since then Benedictine Monks have lived and worked there uninterrupted.
Due to its fame and academic stature, Melk managed to escape dissolution under Emperor Joseph II when many other Austrian abbeys were seized and dissolved between 1780 and 1790. The abbey managed to survive other threats to its existence during the Napoleonic Wars, and also in the period following the Nazi Anschluss that took control of Austria in 1938, when the school and a large part of the abbey were confiscated by the state.
The school was returned to the abbey after the Second World War and now caters for nearly 900 pupils of both sexes.
 We enter into a courtyard to await our guide. The other tour groups are taking group photos and our guide, Monika asks if we would like one. Nearly everyone just shrugs so she dropped the subject. we are waiting for a local tour guide and she takes a while to show up.

However, once she arrives, she is extremely knowledgeable about the Abbey and its history, if maybe a little too long-winded.

 Maria Theresa, whose home was Schonbrunn Palace which we visited yesterday.
 One of the furnaces used to heat the rooms, there is a door outside in the hall was the servants to stoke the fire without disturbing the guests.
The tour starts in the “Imperial Chambers”, where various Habsburg Monarch’s stayed while on formal visits. The "royal" chambers have been converted into an eleven room, non-traditional museum.


 Each room reflects a point in history depicted by a colour. The Abbey's site explains each room.

Oh and of course the gaggle MUST pose in front of every statue and make sure they walk right in front of you as you set up your shot!!

 Oh, wait, they're with us!

We next entered the The Marmorsaal (Marble Hall) which contains pilasters coated in red marble and an allegorical painted ceiling by Paul Troger.
The ceiling is painted to make the room appear higher than it is, an incredible optical illusion.

The ceiling painting shows Athena on a chariot drawn by lions as a symbol of wisdom and moderation. Hercules is to her left, symbolizing the force necessary to conquer the three-headed hound of hell, night, and sin.

The library rises two floors and also has a Troger ceiling, along with around 80,000 volumes of priceless works. The Kaisergang (Emperors' Gallery) stretches for 198m (650 ft.), decorated with portraits of Austrian royalty. No photos are allowed in the library.

 The spiral staircase with Roccoco grate leads to other rooms of the library, which are not open to the public.The ceiling fresco by Paul Troger shows an allegorical portrayal of Scientia (Science).

We then stepped out on the terrace and it the view was so stereo-typically Austrian with the Danube on the right that one wondered if it too was an optical illusion!
Across the terrace was the church, another stunning sight!

 We then walked around the gardens, as it was later than we had hoped. We'd been told that we would have time to walk into town, look around and then walk to the boat. Or stay and go back on one of the buses. We didn't have time to do the walk so we decided to sit and have a beer and enjoy the grounds and take the bus back.

 Back on board and we go up on deck for cocktail hour. We watch as we pass the abbey. This photo doesn't appear to be real.

 We sit on deck as we sail through another lock.

Then to dinner, our table "reserved" by our server Shirelly.


  1. Crazy coincidence...I JUST voted for the Atlantic book club book for June and I noticed that "The Name of the Rose" is leading the pack so far in the voting. Then I clicked over here not one minute later and you mentioned it your post!

    As always, STUNNING photos...the spiral stairs...the painted ceilings...too much to mention. These posts are such a treat for a mom stuck in the Midwest ;)

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