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  • Address: Abt-Berthold-Dietmayr-Strasse 1
  • Hours: May-Sep: 9am - 5:30pm (last admission at 5pm); Apr and Oct: 9am - 4:30pm (last admission at 4pm)
Melk stands at the western end of the Wachau Valley wine-producing region in Lower Austria, accessible from both Vienna and Salzburg. It is a small town on the south side of the Danube River with a Baroque center and is an ideal base from which to explore the vineyards. Seasonal cruises down the river also stop off here.

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.

Practical Info:

Melk is one hour from Vienna and two from Salzburg; from Vienna trains from Westbahnhof Station go straight to Melk and the abbey is within 15 minutes of the station on foot.

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.

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