Yen's Blog

Lens, Wheels, Skates, Keyboard


Marvelous Melk

I put Melk on my itinerary after seeing a photo of this spiral staircase. The abbey dwarfed my highest expectations. As you can imagine, this splendiferous Baroque gem left an unforgettable impression.

The famed “nautilus” staircase

The ceiling in the chapel. Words fail me so I’ll let the picture do the talking :)

The chapel ceiling

Awed would be an understatement.

Looking toward the altar

Stift Melk

The Benedictine Abbey is the principal reason for visiting Melk, and what a reason it is! This stupendous baroque masterpiece is amazing on the outside, and even more stunning inside. This place is fit for a king. A visit here will turn you into a fan-for-life of baroque architecture and decorative art.

The abbey stands on the site of a castle, which was given to Benedictine monks on 1089 by Leopold II. Subsequent monarchs bestowed the abbey with treasures and relics. The present abbey was constructed 1702-1736 based on a design by Jakob Prandtauer.

Courtyard of Melk Abbey

I didn’t plan it, but a priest just happened to be passing through the doorway.

Stormy weather chased us from Salzburg. But beginning in Vienna, it looked great the rest of the way.

O blue sky, where art thou?

The spiral staircase

While the rest of the abbey is magnificent, the painted “Nautilus” staircases steal the show. I could see two, on both sides of the chapel, but there may be more. Unfortunately one cannot climb them. A mirror below the staircase highlights its striking painted underside. Photos of the staircases are my favorites from this trip :)

The chapel

The interior is the most lavish I have ever seen. Of note are the amazing altar, the fantastic dome, and the glorious ceiling murals.

The altar

Unfortunately my wide-angle lens is a little on the narrow side so I couldn’t capture more of this spectacular dome and arched ceiling.

The chapel dome

The library

Throughout its history, the abbey has been connected with a school. This may be the most magnificent library anywhere.

The treasures

That guy from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade would have a hard time picking out the right cup here.

One of the cup held the shinbone of a bishop, sorry I can’t remember which. May be useful to know if you plan to drink from a chalice.

This is what a Medieval strongbox looks like. Just one key opens the lock. And surely it’s booby-trapped to boot. They sure don’t make them the way they used to.

The town

The outdoor balcony on the second floor offers an excellent view of the picturesque town below, nestled along a gentle curve of the Danube.

View of the town

The garden

Admission to the garden is included with the admission to the abbey, or you can purchase admission to the garden alone. This is a quiet park with many tree-shaded lanes and benches, but otherwise it’s unremarkable. Oddly, in front of the pavilion there are a few steel-and-iron modern arts sculptures which are completely out of character with the rest of the abbey.

The garden pavilion

Many benches adorn this secluded, forest-like garden.

Last visit: 2003 Pros: Stunningly magnificent Cons: Possible long lines, tour groups vying for limited space In a nutshell: A religious experience, if I believe in that sort of things