“Old castles looking down from high/greet you smiling from their steep and craggy hilltops…”

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The view of Melk Abbey from across the Danube
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Main entrance to Melk Abbey
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Melk Abbey

Melk Abbey is a massive complex on a hill above the mighty Danube River in the Wachau. The Benedictine Abbey was formerly the royal residence of the first kings of Austria, the Babenberg family, who built a fortress on this hill in the 10th century. The abbey was founded in the 11th century. After the capital of Austria moved to Vienna, Melk was a reasonable stopping place on the road west, given its location 100km from Vienna. It was a frequent stop for the Habsburg rulers, but any visitors were welcome to seek shelter at the abbey, royal or otherwise.

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Entryway into the Prelate’s Courtyard
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Prelate’s Courtyard
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When a recent renovation was completed, the Baroque images were on each side of the courtyard were replaced with modern paintings representing key attributes the Benedictines should embody. This is Endurance, I think.
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This is Temperance
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This is Prudence, I think.
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This is Justice
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Statue at the entrance to Melk Abbey

The abbey you see today is a Baroque construction from the 18th century. Today the abbey hosts a primary school for local children in addition to its magnificent library and church. There are also still monks at Melk between the ages of 26 and 92 – they live onsite and teach at the school or do other work at the abbey.

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Scale model of the Abbey
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Mirror reflection of the scale model from the ceiling
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Beautiful painting in one of the archways between courtyards
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Melk Church
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Statue in front of Melk Church

The abbey was an inspiration for Umberto Eco when he wrote The Name of the Rose. 

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Terrace on the east side of Melk Abbey
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Views of Melk town from the abbey
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Exterior of Melk Abbey & Melk town
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Town of Melk
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Views of the Danube from in front of Melk Church
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The Danube River from Melk Abbey

The abbey is huge, so the next two posts will also cover my visit there. Today’s post shows the exterior of the abbey and the village of Melk at its base. Check back tomorrow for details about the imperial apartments at Melk.

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One of many passageways inside the abbey compound
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For Advent, the windows of the abbey were decorated by the school children and lit by day like a huge Advent calendar
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Detail of some of the Advent windows
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Melk Abbey at night

Title quote: Lyrics from “The Blue Danube,” music by Johann Strauss II, lyrics by Joseph Weyl

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