Overlooking the Danube River, on the top of a cliff, sits the overwhelming Melk Abbey. An impressive Baroque-style monastery located in the Austrian vineyard region of the Wachau.
We decided to make a day trip to Melk and the region of the Wachau during our last visit to Vienna. The beauty of this monastery and its surroundings are worthy enough of planning ahead and staying one more day in Vienna. You can reach Melk by car, bus or boat, being the last one may be the most recommendable option. You can expect to see an awesome scenery of hills crossed by the Danube River, lovely towns, vineyards, ruins, castles, and much more during your trip to Melk or on the way back to Vienna.
Once you arrive in Melk, you will be amazed by its landscape and the sights. The building has been restored several times during the last few decades so that it’ll recover its full splendor. You will be able to visit the Abbey Museum, which includes an exhibition of 10 different rooms driving you through the many ages that this Monastery has lived and where you will see part of its treasure. This exhibition is greatly designed. After visiting the Marble Hall, you’ll pass through a terrace, where you look down to the Danube or to the Church Façade then to its marvelous old library.
The library of Melk Abbey is quite impressive. You’ll be among thousands of books. Many of them really old, many of them even manuscripts and incunabula. An important fact, once you are there, it’s important to be patient enough to wait for the guided tours to leave the library. Then you’ll be free to admire the place. Don’t forget to look up to the ceiling to see the fresco, breathe, and feel the smell of old books.
According to the guide book of the Abbey, “The library of the Melk Abbey consists of a total of twelve rooms containing about 1.888 manuscripts, 750 incunabula (printed works before 1500), 1700 works from the 16th, 4500 from the 17th, and 18000 from the 18th century; together with the newer books, approximately 100000 volumes in total".
There is also a smaller library room which is as beautiful as the other.
After the visit to the library, you will descend to a spiral staircase which will take you to the church. This church is colored gold wherever you look at. The altar is fantastic, everything shines, and no trace of dust can be seen as may happen in other heavily adorned churches.
Outside you will find a huge garden with a restaurant and astonishing views. I can only recommend for you to go there and see it all yourself.
I have known the name of Melk long before knowing where it was. I was glad to discover it was in Austria and since then I was willing to visit it. The world of Melk was introduced to me by the book “In the Name of the Rose” a novel written by Umberto Eco, whose narrator was Adso of Melk, a young Austrian Benedictine novice. Though the novel’s plot is situated in another monastery, Melk is mentioned several times and being there made me think about it, remembering how much I adore this book.