However, Melk is best known for its staggeringly massive Benedictine monastery, which was founded in 1089 in a medieval fortress belonging to the House of Babenberg. After 1,000 years it’s still functioning as an abbey and school today. In the 15th century the abbey’s monks played a leading part in central European monastic reform and it took its present magnificent Baroque form after a devastating fire in the early 18th century. The abbey church with its enormous dome and ornate golden-hued bell towers now stands proud on a rocky bluff high over the Danube River.
The interior of the abbey church is a mass of stained-glass windows, multi-colored marble, intricate gilding and elaborate frescos in the dome by Johann Michael Rottmayr. Melk boasts the largest ecclesiastical library in the world, with over 80,000 priceless volumes and a wonderfully frescoed ceiling, while the new museum has many jeweled reliquaries and manuscripts on show.
Napoleon used Melk Abbey as his HQ when campaigning in Austria and the monastery also survived WWII, only to be badly damaged by fire once again in 1947. Today it is surrounded by landscaped gardens with spectacular views over the Wachau Valley and the Danube.
The abbey is open daily between May and September and last admissions are at 4.30pm. Tickets allow access to the church, chapels, gardens, library and museum. Dress respectfully to enter the abbey and church; shorts and bare shoulders are not permitted.
Tours & Tickets
Spend a day away from Vienna to discover the picturesque Wachau Valley in the Austrian countryside on this small-group, fully guided tour. Satisfy your ... Read more
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)
Explore Wachau Valley, Austria’s premier winemaking region, on a full-day tour with a private guide! After leaving Vienna, travel into the heart of the ... Read more
Duration: 8 hours 30 minutes (approx.)