Overlooking the Danube valley towers one of the most breathtaking Baroque buildings in the world, the Melk Abbey. This architecturally significant monument on a hill in Austria is a perfect example of Baroque architecture. Surrounded by rugged terraced vineyards that overlook the Danube River, Melk Abbey comes to life when the sun rises in the Wachau Valley. The twin symmetrical towers of Melk Abbey can be seen from miles around with its 200 feet high dome. The view from Melk Abbey's semi-circular terrace overlooking the Wachau Valley is perhaps one of the best views from an abbey church in Europe.
Melk Abbey originally was owned by the House of Babenbergs before being donated to the Benedictine monks in 1809. Rich in history and drama, Melk Abbey has survived substantial fires in 1297, an outbreak of the plague and a dreadful harvest which threatened closure of the Benedictine monastery.
Melk Abbey was resurrected through the tireless efforts of Abbot Berthold Dietmayr with his team of architects Joseph Munggenast and Jakob Prandtauer. Between 1702 -1736 they worked hard to build a sacred palace upon the medieval monastery foundations. Other craftsmen and artists involved in the restoration of Melk Abbey include Antonio Beduzzi, Johann Michael, Peter Widerin, Giuseppe Galli-Bibiena, Paul Troger and Lorenzo Mattielli. With the sarcophagus on the left side of the alter containing the skeleton of St. Colomon, the remains of St. Benedict are apparently in the sarcophagus to the right side of the alter.
No sightseeing tour of Europe or the town of Melk would be complete without a day trip and walking tour to Melk Abbey. With stunning apricot hues, the baroque style architecture of Melk Abbey is picture post-card perfect. With red marble pilasters, stucco marble walls and a breathtaking ceiling fresco resembling Greek mythology inside the Marble Hall, the Melk Abbey is a must-visit destination. Featuring a library with over 16,000 volumes the main hall has a stunning spiral staircase leading to 12 library rooms with over 100,000 volumes. With volumes spanning different languages including English, Latin and Hebrew and topics including medicine, history and law many all the books in Melk Abbey have historical and cultural significance. This significant monastic library is said to have been the inspiration for Italian writer Umberto Eco's "The Name of the Rose".
Rich in history Melk Abbey is today operating as a co-educational school with over 900 students enrolled.