So after admiring Hallstatt’s morning, I continued taking the train to my second destination of the day – Melk, Austria.
To be honest, though I did check the train location and train timetables, I didn’t really research about the sites because I didn’t want to have prejudices before I see them in person. But the moment my train approached Melk, and the moment I saw the glimpse of Melk Abbey, I knew I was at the right place…this beautiful place..palace..and I begin to go back into history.
Melk city itself is pretty small, but like Hallstatt because of the Melk Abbey, it is one of the top touristy places. The Melk Benedictine abbey is one of the world’s most famous monastic sites. It is located above the city town of Melk on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Danube River in lower Austria. Founded in 1089 when Leopold II, Margrave of Austria gave one of his castles to Benedictine monks from Lambach Abbey, it has become one of the historical sites in Austria and in the world. A monastic school was founded in the 12th century and the library soon became renowned for its extensive manuscript collections. The baroque art we see today was built mostly between 1702 and 1736 by designer Jakob Prandtauer. The abbey church is also a must see. Due to its fame and academic stature, the Melk managed to escape dissolution under Emperor Joseph II when many other Austrian abbeys were seized and dissolved between 1780 and 1790.
Don’t worry. I didn’t get a sense of this history until I researched again back home after the trip. But even if you did not know any of this history, you can still admire and enjoy witnessing this beautiful site. I recall, in fact, seeing a quote someone saying how she “would have regretted her life if I had never visited this monastery before I died.” And I agree. Totally agree! While it was a quick trip, if I had the time, I would want to come here (and both Hallstatt) again! If you ever plan on making a trip that way, I would strongly recommend you looking into the Krem-Melk cruise ride. You can start at either location but make sure you have enough time to see the Abbey in Melk and its park.
Within Melk Abbey, there are four highlights that you should not miss: the church, the library, the city view, and the park! And for those who want to see more then that could cycle along the Danube River, which I heard was lovely. In fact, that day I noticed many tourist and locals cycling along the river and within the city area. But since I saw only the Melk Abbey area, here are some highlights I would like to share.
1. The Library – rising two floors is one of the oldest in the world. With marble ceilings the library contains some 80,000 volumes. Because the library is so old, we were not allowed to take pictures. But I loved it so much that I kept going back in to the library and stayed there to admire the history and its beauty. Yes, one day, I hope to have such a library. (Note: I’ve also visited St. Gallen’s old library and Vienna’s State Library that has the hint of this mystic history. If you have been to either or all you will understand what I mean.)
2. The Church – with 200ft dome and symmetric twin towers dominating the abbey complex the church welcomes you into an awe stage of sacred area. While a large part of the church was restored due to a fire in 1947, it still preserves the old aspect. Even the gold-bullion gilding of statues and altars were restored completely. I took pictures but seeing this place in person is something different.
3. The Park – now this was something. Because it was almost closing time, there weren’t that many people in the park. So I felt like I had the entire Melk Park to myself, a pretty good feeling when you love nature and parks. In fact, I enjoyed my time here so much, taking pictures, walking along admiring different angle and scenarios that I got locked inside the park. I lost track of time. I didn’t realize the park was really closing, so when I did make a final walk and returned to the gate, I saw the door locked. I had to wait for a bit until they came to let me out, but it was nevertheless a good place to be locked in..! Here are few photos that I took.
To those who enjoy classical music..To describe Melk Abbey’s beauty in music is like listening to Beethoven’s No. 5 E flat minor Op. 73. Simply, grand and lovely. Even from the photos you get a sense of that grand elegance..as you listen to Beethoven’s magic.
4. The View – this is something that I do not need to describe. I hope the pictures at least show what Melk Abbey presents as beautiful. Ah, what an evening to spend here, just letting time slip away between your fingers..
I would agree, this place is something else.