Discovering Divinity at Melk Abbey with @Gate1Travel.
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Deep inside of me there’s a history major lurking. I am not sure why I have this inclination, it’s just something that has always been there.
So for me, traveling up the Danube River with Gate 1 Travel was like being on a floating time machine with each port revealing a chapter in the shallow river’s deep history. In Vienna, for example, we sat around the marble tables of Cafe Hawekla with our coffee and cake. In Durnstein, Austria, Beth and I walked the misty morning streets that King Richard Lionheart once peered down on to from his stone cell. And in Melk, we discovered the central nerve of Austria’s spiritual center–the Melk Abbey. Of the three, the abbey surprised me the most. Built as a castle for the House of Babenberg and then established as a fortified Benedictine monastery in 1089. The original abbey was destroyed by fire, but the monastery was rebuilt in the 18th century.
The Melk Abbey has endured some of Austria’s most tumultuous times–Reformation, occupation by Napoleon and later the Nazis– and to this day, just as it has for 900 years, the institution still survives, funded now through agriculture and tourism. To celebrate the 1,000th anniversary of the first reference to a country named Austria, the abbey underwent what was known as the grand restoration project, which was completed in 1996. The restorations were financed in part by the sale of the abbey’s Gutenberg Bible to Harvard.
While I was prepared to see a glistening baroque Benedictine monastery, I didn’t expect to have my senses touched by the modern exhibition “The Path from Yesterday to Today – Melk Abbey in its Past and Present.” Housed in the art-lined Imperial Corridor, I found that the production, which uses vibrant colors, sound and design to highlight artistic and valuable objects of the abbey’s history, really enhanced the tour experience for me as we explored the monastery with our guide.
In addition to the Imperial Corridor, which is really just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, the abbey is full of grandiose highlights. Make sure not to miss the library, the Marble Hall with its incredible ceiling fresco by Tirolean Paul Troger, the shimmering Baroque church with its 20 story dome, and, finally, the magnificent copy of the Melk Cross (the original is hideaway in the treasury and can only be viewed with special permission), which is in a room off to the right side of the church.
The times may have changed and its great to see that the Melk Abbey has embraced it’s history, legacy and future. Here’s to another 1,000 years! In the meantime, you can enjoy these photos from our visit to the abbey.
What’s the coolest historic place you’ve ever visited?
*While we were hosted by Gate 1 Travel, our thoughts and opinions are entirely our own.
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*Please remember all photos on this website, unless otherwise noted, are copyrighted and property of Beers and Beans Travel Website & Bethany Salvon. Please do not use them without my permission. If you do want to use one of them please contact me first. Thanks!