According to the basic Christian principles, 'the luxury' and 'the monastery' should not come together, but in a case of the luxurious Melk Abbey, it does. Of the many abbeys in Austria, the Melk Abbey is the most famous and one of the biggest and most beautiful ones. It is a Benedictine monastery situated in the historical Wachau region, in the town with the same name, which has been a spiritual and cultural centre of the country for more than 1000 years. First, the abbey was a castle of the House of Babenberg, Austria's first ruling dynasty. Then in the 11th century, it became a Benedictine monastery. The remains of several members of the House of Babenberg can be found here.
The abbey is located on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Danube River and the town Melk. Along with the small town Dürnstein, the Melk Abbey is a symbol of the Wachau, and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With its beautiful golden-coloured façade and magnificent baroque church towers located in an idyllic landscape of the Wachau Valley, this abbey looks more like a royal palace than a monastery.
The monastery also houses the Stiftsgymnasium Milk, the oldest surviving school in Austria. Since its establishment in the 12th century, it has been collecting valuable manuscripts. The collection is now the monastic library, which is renowned for its priceless collection. As a tribute to this famous library, Umberto Eco in his famous novel “The Name of the Rose” named one of the protagonists "Adso of Melk”.
Today’s baroque look is from the 18th century, and the Melk Abbey is the largest monastery of the Austrian Baroque. The south wing alone with its magnificent marble hall is over 240 meters long - the length of the main axis has a total of 320 meters. Inside of the abbey complex, there is a museum, which portraits the long history and significance of the monastery. Also worth visiting is the abbey's park, which is one of the most important garden architectural monuments in Austria
Every year about 500,000 guests visit this monastery. It is conveniently located less than one hour drive from Vienna, directly on a state motorway A1. There are many day tours from Vienna to Melk. Usually, they include a visit to the abbey, wine tastings in the Wachau valley, a boat cruise on a steamboat along the Danube River with a visit to Dürnstein and its famous Castle prison for Richard the Lionheart. The abbey itself is a short walk from the train station through the picturesque medieval town Melk. The luxurious Abbey Melk is worth a day trip from Vienna, and it is one of the most visited spots in Austria.
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