Melk Abbey (Austria)

Melk Abbey (Austria)

The 900 years old Benedictine abbey is situated in Melk, on the right bank of the Danube.

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Keywords

Melk, Wachau, abbey, monastery, church, building, architecture, Lambach, Rudolf IV, monk, Austria, Order of Saint Benedict, World Heritage, Leopold II, Danube, marble hall, Council of Constance, library

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Scenes

  • - It is Europe's second longest river (2,850 km or 1,771 mi). Originating in the Black Forest in Germany, it empties into the Black Sea (in the territories of Romania and Ukraine). Its Austrian section (the right bank) is 351 km (218.1 mi) long.
  • - It holds around 100,000 books and 1,888 manuscripts, some of which date back to the 9th century.
  • - Benedictine monks from Lambach Abbey moved into the monastery on March 21, 1089.
  • - While the southern bastion plays a very important role in defense, the northern one was built for the sake of symmetry.
  • - It is trapezoidal, with a length of 84 m (275.6 ft) and a width of 42 m (137.8 ft). The fountain situated at the center of the courtyard was bought from the Waldhausen Abbey in the 19th century.
  • - Located on the first floor, the 196 m (643 ft) long Imperial Corridor runs along the entire length of the southern front of the house. The former imperial rooms open from the corridor.
  • - Two-story hall located under the gate's arch. Its frescoes depict Saint Benedict, the founder of the Benedictine order.

The Benedictine abbey in Melk is located in Austria. Its nearly 1,000 years of history abounds with interesting and important events.

Leopold II, Margrave of Austria, founded the monastery on a hill above the Danube at the time of the Investiture Contest. Leopold II called in Benedictine monks from Lambach Abbey, who took up residence there in 1089. In 1122, the Concordat of Worms placed the abbey under direct papal supervision. The abbey was almost totally destroyed by fire in 1297 and so were the library's valuable manuscripts. The 14th century also brought a lot of hardship to the abbey.

However, in 1362 prince Rudolf IV donated a magnificent reliquary for the abbey's most precious relic (a piece of the cross of Jesus). The gift was a 60 cm (23.6 in) high gold filigree cross, decorated with precious stones (Melk Cross).

The Council of Constance, which met at the beginning of the 15th century, decided to reform the Benedictine order. Melk Abbey became the model for the unfolding monastic reforms as well as a cultural center.

The 16th century again brought a period of decline, due to the Reformation and the Ottoman threat. However, at the beginning of the 17th century, Melk Abbey was revived mostly thanks to the activity of some outstanding abbots. A thriving monastic community was formed, which over time became the regional center of the Counter-Reformation.

It was during its Baroque reconstruction that the abbey received its final, world-famous shape. The abbey continued to flourish in the 18th century, when it also excelled at scientific and music studies.

  • - The original 60 cm (23.6 in) high cross is made of gold and silver. Its rear side is decorated with pearls and precious stones.

  • - It has a height of 64 m (210 ft).

Melk Abbey is one of Austria's most beautiful Baroque buildings. The new church building was built in 1736, as part of the 18th century restorations. However, two years later, both its towers were destroyed by fire. The restoration of the towers incorporated Rococo architectural elements. The church building was consecrated in 1746. Its patron saints are St. Peter and Paul.

The church building is a huge domed hall construction which contains niches and galleries. Its dome is 64 m (210 ft) high. The building's main entrance is located on the western side. While the façade bears the statues of Peter and Paul, the two patron saints, the statues of Saint Michael and one guardian angel stand above the entrance. The pediment between the two towers depicts the risen Jesus flanked by two angels. Weighing 7,840 kg (17,284.2 lb), the church's and Lower Austria's largest bell is called Peter and Paul bell, or Vesperin. It rings every Friday at 3 p.m., the hour when Jesus died.

  • - It holds around 100,000 books and 1,888 manuscripts, some of which date back to the 9th century.
  • - Benedictine monks from Lambach Abbey moved into the monastery on March 21, 1089.
  • - Located on the first floor, the 196 m (643 ft) long Imperial Corridor runs along the entire length of the southern front of the house. The former imperial rooms open from the corridor.
  • 320 m (1,049.9 ft)
  • 64 m (210 ft)
  • - The original 60 cm (23.6 in) high cross is made of gold and silver. Its rear side is decorated with pearls and precious stones.

Narration

The Melk Abbey is a Benedictine abbey above the town of Melk in Lower Austria, on a mountain overlooking the Danube. It was founded as a monastery by Leopold II, Margrave of Austria, who called in Benedictine monks from Lambach Abbey. They moved in in 1089. The eventful history of the monastery thus encompasses almost 1,000 years.

The major axis of this enormous and grand structure measures 320 m (1,049.9 ft) in length.

The main entrance is located on the eastern side of the complex. It leads to a small courtyard in front of the eastern façade. The prelate's courtyard is bordered by the 240-meter-long (787.4-feet-long) southern wing.

The Imperial quarters and the Marble hall are located in this wing of the building complex. The latter is connected to the library by a gallery, which is located in front of the western façade and provides a magnificent view of the Danube. The library is also well-known; it holds numerous valuable books and old manuscripts.

The monastery and other rooms are located on the northern side of the abbey.

The Melk Abbey is one of Austria's most beautiful Baroque buildings. The church building is a huge domed hall construction with niches and galleries. Its dome is 64 m (210 ft) high. It was consecrated in 1746. Its patron saints are St. Peter and Paul.

In 2000, the Melk Abbey took its rightful place among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is worth noting that in 2008 the abbey was chosen as the Best Historical Destination by National Geographic Traveler Magazine.

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