Of course it has not hurt the reputation of the Melk Abbey that narrator
in Umberto Ecco's fictional “The Name Of The Rose” was named Adso of Melk
and portrayed as a member of the
Benedictines from Melk Abbey. Note, that the Abbey was not used for
filming the movie version of "The Name of the Rose."
The Abbey is open daily, although touring during the
winter months is offered only as part of a guided tour. You can visit
on a guided tour or independently from March to
the beginning of November.
The tours, which can be purchased at the ticket
house near the entrance to the Abbey, are
informative and last about 50 minutes. The guides do a good job of
presenting the Abbey and explaining its relationship to the various monarchs
and church officials who shepherded its existence through history.
The tour starts in the
“Imperial Chambers”, where various Habsburg Monarch’s stayed
while on formal visits. The "royal" chambers have been converted into an
eleven room, non-traditional
museum. Although you will see some interesting treasures during this part of
the tour, we found the design of the exhibits and themes of the rooms
somewhat disorganized an uninteresting.
Several rooms are
illuminated with unusual colors of light intended (unsuccessfully) to convey the history of
the Abbey. In one room the floor undulates up
and down to represent the “ups and downs of history” and how they influenced
the Abbey. Regardless, these rooms are
part of the tour and after you leave the museum, you will experience the
obvious richness of the Abbey at Melk when you see the Library and the Abbey
The Baroque architecture, size, condition and stunning setting of the Abbey
are the main reasons for the site’s popularity. In addition, the
well known for its Library that contains over 100,000 volumes.
Its real fame
is related to the approximately 1200 hand lettered books created by the
brothers of the Benedictine Order from the 9th to the 15th
centuries. The calligraphic efforts required to produce one large book, often took
an entire lifetime
and sometimes the lifetimes of several monks. The multi-room
Library is ornate, decorated with beautiful frescos and houses two antique
globes (one terrestrial, the other astronomical) that attract a great deal
The Abbey offers two other interesting attractions. First, the Marble Hall
sports a fine ceiling fresco by Paul Troger (18th century). The room was
used by the royals as a ballroom/dining room and is quite attractive.
Outside is the Balcony that leads to the Library and provides an impressive
view of the town of Melk, as well as of the Danube. After exiting the
Library you will find yourself in a very beautiful church with a famous
ceiling fresco by Johann M, Rottmayr, dating from the early 18th century. If
you think that parts of the church appear visually over the top, it may be
because parts of it were planned by a noted Italian designer of…theaters.
The central dome and main altar are stunning. For those interested, the
Latin phrase over the altar “Non Coronabitur Nis Legitme Certaverit”
translates “Without a legitimate battle there is no victory”.
For more information about the Benedictine Abbey at Melk, visit the
Our daytrip home page on the Wachau and Krems is
here, while our page on Dürnstein is
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