Monday, June 28, 2010
Stift Melk (Melk Abbey) is approximately an hour's drive from Vienna and can be seen from the freeway. It is a massive abbey built on top of a cliff reigning over the town Melk below and the Danube. Stift Melk takes its name from the river Milk that runs along the west base. Melk was originally a Slavic word meaning "slow-moving stream".
The site is believed to have had a spiritual community on it since the 11th century and was reconstructed in the 18th century in the Baroque style. There is some major reconstruction at this time which obscures some of the walls. There is an English Garden attached to the abbey with a Baroque Summer House. Much of the time you spend looking at the ceilings, there are the beautiful frescoes gracing the soaring spaces.
The photo above is the view to the Danube River (in the distance) from Terrace after visiting the Imperial Corridor. The Imperial Corridor is a treasure trove of religious relics dating from the 11th century. There is a book from the early 9th century in the library (transcription of works of Venerable Bede). The Melk Abbey library contains approximately 100,000 volumes (from 9th century to current date) of which only 16000 are on display in the library.
The staircase from the library to the church is unexpected artists delight, the small photo is from the top down and the larger taken from the bottom showing the art on the ceilings.
The church itself is an ostentatious display of wealth but it the atmosphere is one of peace and respect. Almost everything is coated in gold (my camera cannot capture the true spectacle. I would highly recommend an afternoon at the abbey (and buy the guide book).