Melk Tourist Attractions
At the point where the Danube enters the region of the Wachau lies the little town of Melk, dominated by the massive bulk of the Benedictine abbey, one of the best known and most splendid monastic houses in Austria. Visible from miles away, the abbey is perched on a hill which slopes steeply down to the Danube and is accessible only from the east. Originally a Roman fortified post (Namare), Melk was later occupied by a Babenberg castle to defend the border against the Hungarians. In 1089 the castle and church were made over to the Benedictines by the Margrave Leopold II; in 1113 the bones of St Koloman were moved there. In the 13th C. Melk became a market town. After the abbey had been damaged by fire several times the present magnificent Baroque abbey was built by Jakob Prandtauer and Joseph Munggenast between 1702 and 1738.
The Melk Benedictine Abbey constitutes several buildings that span a total length of 325m/1,065ft. The most prominent feature of the Abbey is it's twin towered church.
The town below the Melk Benedictine Abbey is also worth a visit. The main arteries are the Rathausplatz, the Hauptstrasse (Main Street) and the Hauptplatz (Main Square), together with Kremser Strasse and Wiener Strasse. In Rathausplatz stand the old Lebzelterhaus (House for Itinerants; 1657) with painted windows (now a chemist's shop) and the Rathaus bearing the town's coat of arms. In Sterngasse will be found the old abbey tavern (1736), built by Franz Munggenast (with a stone statue of the Coronation of Our Lady). At the "Haus am Stein" there is an old vine which is listed. Of interest are the Nibelungen Memorial Tablet (Nibelungen-Gedenktafel) and parts of the old town wall in Kremser Strasse. Near the river bank are the shipping master's house and the high tide marks reached during the latest great flood catastrophes. South of Linzer Strasse stands the old post office, built in 1792 for the postmaster Freiherr von Fürnberg and now a local museum. Note also the statue of St Nepomuk in the Hauptplatz and a tablet in the Hauptstrasse commemorating Anton Bruckner.
South of Melk stands Schloss Schallaburg, with a magnificent two story arcaded courtyard and terracotta decoration, the most important piece of Renaissance architecture in Lower Austria. The Schloss is now a cultural and exhibition center.
Opening hours: 9am-5pm; Sun: 9am-6pm; Sat: 9am-6pm
Entrance fee in EUR: Family €18.00, Adult €10.00, Group discounts €8.00, Senior €8.00, Students €4.00
Between Melk and Schallaburg rears the Wachberg (285m/935ft), from which there are superb views of Melk Abbey and the Danube valley.
High above the Danube at the finest viewpoint in the Nibelungengau, as the section of the Danube Valley between Ybbs and Melk is known, stands the handsome Early Baroque pilgrimage church of Maria Taferl. The church is said to have been built on the site of an oak tree on which was a revered image of the Virgin. In front of the church stands a Celtic sacrificial stone.
The twin-towered church, built between 1661 and 1711 by G. Gerstenbrand and C. Lurago, with domes by J. Prandtauer, has a marble doorway. Inside are Baroque ceiling paintings and other frescos; in the nave can be seen scenes from the life of St Joseph and in the transept and below the organ loft those illustrating the origin of the legend of the Virgin. Attention is also drawn to the pulpit decorated with a multitude of figures and to the organ with its rich gold decoration, both of the 18th C. On the high altar (also 18th C.) is a revered figure of the Madonna, a pietà (copy of the original which was burned in 1755), surrounded by a garland decorated with cherubs. From the hill on which the church stands there is a magnificent view over the Danube valley to the chain of the Alps, extending from the Wiener Schneeberg to the Traunstein, on the Traunsee.
This annual month-long festival runs from early July to early August.
Map of Melk Attractions