Visiting Melk and its Magnificent Abbey


Amsterdam to Budapest River Cruise – Avalon Waterways – Day 11
Melk Benedictine Abbey Follow Me on Pinterest

Melk Benedictine Abbey

Today we cruised through the narrow Strudengau valley region to reach the Wachau Valley where Melk was our first sightseeing stop. Melk’s magnificent Benedictine Abbey is one of Europe’s largest baroque monasteries, so we were very much looking forward to this visit.

Our ship arrived in Melk at 7:30 a.m. and shortly after breakfast, we were taken by coach to visit the Abbey. From the road we could see the bright yellow Melk Abbey complex on top of a rocky outcrop and we were grateful for the coach ride.

Garden Pavillion

As we arrived at the Abbey before their 9 a.m. opening, we spent some time in the garden and its small palace next to the entrance – do not miss this. The garden pavilion has some very interesting frescoes, reflecting the style of Johann Wenzel Bergl. Many of his garden landscapes included images of exotic plants and animals, jungles and natives or romantic sceneries, no doubt reflecting his fantasy of paradise. Considering that the Melk garden pavilion was a place of relaxation for the monks, I thought the frescoes appeared out of character with monastic life. But what do I know about monastic life and in any case the paintings were unique.

Stift Melk Follow Me on Pinterest

Interesting fresco in the Garden Pavilion

Melk Abbey itself has extensive exhibition rooms, containing all manner of sacred and profane objects imaginatively displayed. One of the exhibits was an idea by Joseph II for a reusable coffin (an invention you could say "died away" without success). The Church was exquisite and after the church, the Library was the second most important room, holding some 100,000 books, including impressive manuscripts from before 15th century to modern works.

Melk Abbey Library Follow Me on Pinterest

Melk Abbey Library

Visitng Melk Village

The Abbey visit justifiably took a while as there was plenty to see, and after the guided tour we had the choice of transferring back to the ship by coach or walking down to Melk village and then making our own way back to the ship. The village is a pretty place and there was opportunity to look in the shops or stop for an espresso coffee at one of the little cafes or try some local cheeses or pastries.

Melk village Follow Me on Pinterest

Street market in Melk village

Melk Abbey or Stift Melk is one of the world’s most famous monastic sites and well worth a visit. By late morning, we were back on the ship (just) and sailing for Dürnstein.

A word of advice: pay attention to where your ship is moored. After the Abbey visit, we chose to make our own way back to the ship and got a little lost. Where our ship moored was not too far from Melk village, but at the excitement of seeing Melk Abbey, we neglected to pay attention to our return route. Do not follow the sign to the port as we did. We were not the only ones to lose our way and one couple nearly missed departure time.

Another word of advice: Your tour director may say that it’s only 15 minutes back to the boat, but allow yourself a little more time especially if you’re not a fast walker.

More information on Melk here: Melk Info-briefing

Photos of Melk: Melk Photo Gallery

Next page: Dürnstein

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