Melk, Austria

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Over President's Day weekend we took a quick trip to Vienna, Austria to see a few things that we missed the first time back in November 2013. It started out cold and snowy in Germany.
By the time we got to Melk it was a beautiful, sunny, and warm day! We totally lucked out, it had been rainy almost the entire drive (and was predicted for our entire trip) and then suddenly the clouds were gone and our spirits lifted 1000%! Sunshine is so good for the soul :)
 We found a parking lot in the middle of town and made our way up the hill.
Melk's restored abbey, beaming proudly over the Danube, is one of Europe's great sights. Established as a fortified Benedictine abbey in the 11th century, it was later destroyed by fire (seriously though, what wasn't destroyed by fire back in the day?!) and what you see today is 18th century baroque. The abbey church with its 200-foot-tall dome and symmetrical towers, dominates the complex - emphasizing its sacred purpose. 
During the off-season you can only visit the abbey as part of a guided tour which they offer twice a day. We got there with a few minutes to spare then headed off with our tour group. 
Hallways that seem to go on forever.
The first part of the tour took us through the Abbey Museum. It displayed some of the abbey's treasures and books. A couple rooms had cool scale models of the abbey: Old model of Melk on the left and a current model on the right.
A grand restoration project was completed in 1996 to celebrate the 1,000th anniversary of the first reference to a country named Austria. This room reminds me of Beauty and the Beast!
The Marble Hall's ceiling is a treasure painted by the Tirolean Paul Troger in 1732. It effectively uses trompe l'oeil to make the ceiling look higher and more curved than it really is. 
Jaaaaane. She wasn't on her best behavior during the tour. We got many "looks". It happens. We still love to travel.
My favorite part, well, one of them, of the tour was when we walked outside, soaked up the sun and the views, and got a great look at the abbey (ignore the scaffolding lol).
The views oh the views!

A 360 view from the terrace of the Melk Abbey:
Continuing on the tour and into the other side of the abbey!

We entered the precious library which was super super super duper cool. No pictures allowed, so here's one from the www:
For Benedictine monks, the library was - except for the church itself - the most important room in the abbey. They invested a great amount of money just into the elaborate decor, not to mention the thousands of books. In the Middle Ages, monasteries controlled information and hoarded it in their libraries. At a time when most everyone else was illiterate, monks were Europe's educated elite.

Check out this spiral staircase!
The final stop of the tour was the chapel. Um... WOW!!
The church is not only the final stop on the tour, but also the grand finale with its architecture, ceiling frescoes, stucco marble, grand pipe organ, and sumptuous chapels adorned with cherubs. All these elements combine in full Baroque style to make the theological point: A just battle leads to victory. The ceiling shows St. Benedict's triumphant entry into heaven.  High above, the painting in the dome shows the ultimate victory: the Holy Trinity surrounded by saints of particular importance to Melk in heaven. 
Our family at the Melk Abbey on Friday February 12th 2016.
We made our way back to the car and spent about 20 minutes driving all over town trying to find THE perfect view of the abbey, but none are as good as ones from the world wide web so here ya go :)
Then we drove to our hotel in Vienna - post of what we did there coming soon!

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