Melk Abbey

October 18, 2014  •  1 Comment

One of the joys of traveling by river is that you are presented an altered view of the land.  During a morning trip through the Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, we watched hectare upon hectare of beautiful, well-established vineyards climbing up the hills on both sides of the Danube (and later on the Rhine River as well).  What astounded me about the vineyards is that there doesn't seem to be any erosion, despite the steepness.   

Wachau Valley vineyardsWachau Valley vineyards

Following the feast of green along the river, we arrived at the Austrian town of Melk in late morning.  It was the shortest of our stops and included an extensive tour of the famous Melk Abbey.  It is a working abbey run by Benedictine monks, and home to nearly 700 students.  Just as a human being's looks may not reveal his or her personality, a building, castle, cathedral, or abbey's exterior sometimes gives the viewer very little information about the interior.  The building's secrets are not given freely but have to be explored.  Such is the case with the abbey.

Melk Abbey exteriorMelk Abbey exterior Although the current building was constructed between 1702 and 1736, the community of Melk has been in existence since the 11th century.  Both the exterior and interior of the existing abbey are considered baroque, but there are stunning differences.  The softness of color and design features of the rooms are as breathtaking as the squash-colored, carnival-striped facade.

Melk Abbey vaults and columnsMelk Abbey vaults and columns

Architect Jakob Prandtauer was a brilliant visualizer, and knew precisely what he was doing as far as surface treatment and window placement were concerned. Every window seems to be placed precisely to shed light and shadow on an architectural element or to trumpet the plaster, marble, or faux marble embellishments.

Melk Abbey window light and shadowMelk Abbey window light and shadow

I lagged behind the group on several occasions to investigate multiple staircases on which we were not allowed, for obvious reasons.

Melk Abbey staircaseMelk Abbey staircase

Every step lead to another head-jerking element, such as this extremely intricate ceiling.  I was nearly on my back while shooting it.

Melk Abbey interior ceiling shotMelk Abbey interior ceiling shot


until next Monday,


a passion for the [email protected]




Steve Immel(non-registered)
This is another fabulous post, Daryl. And once again the river journey has brought out the best in your prose. This post is full of wonderful turns of phrase like "head jerking element" and "to trumpet the plaster, marble or faux marble embellishments." That's some sweet wordsmithing.
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