Castles, Churches and one amazing Baroque Abbey
05.07.2012 - 05.07.2012 25 °C
The ship left Vienna at 1:00 am and cruised through the night. The next morning we cruised through the Wachau Valley – a World Heritage Site. We were surrounded by lovely rolling hills dotted with beautiful old churches, ruins of old castles, and charming Austrian towns. We found some chaise lounges in a shaded area and enjoyed the views.
This is the heart of Austria’s wine country and we saw many vineyards terraced on the surrounding hills.
Lunch was served on the sun (top) deck and was a sampling of Austrian food and local beer. It was excellent. After lunch we docked in Melk and promptly boarded a tour bus which took us up to Melk Abbey. This magnificent building was given to the Benedictine Monks over 900 years ago by the ruling Babenberg family and they have continued to live and work there ever since. In the late 1600's it was badly damaged by fire and was rebuilt between 1701 and 1726 in the baroque style. It is a World Heritage Site.
Melk Abbey - Stift Melk
This is a model of the abbey.
This is the Front
and inside those doors you find the Inner Courtyard.
They have five magnificent libraries filled with over one hundred thousand very old books. (We were not permitted to take photos in the libraries) They also have a school there – our guide had been a student at that school.
The church of the Abbey is a working church with the most gold we have ever seen. They also had reliquaries under several of the altars in the knaves. It was the most opulent church I have seen including the chapel in Windsor castle.
Side of the church
Side altar containing the relics of a saint.
The Abbey hosted many wealthy and noble visitors and has hundreds of rooms. One of the Main Halls had interesting circular windows at the top - they opened to permit the guests to hear the orchestra which was located in a room behind those windows.
That same room has a magnificent ceiling which is an optical illusion as it is mostly flat and not domed as it appears.
After touring the Abbey, we walked towards the ship with our new friends, Jean and Bernie (from Vancouver) stopping on the way for some refreshemnts at a sidewalk cafe.
We returned to the ship to view a strudel-making demonstration. The most difficult part is the careful stretching of the dough which is a bit like and extension of pizza making.
We had dinner with a group of friends we have now made and then went up on the deck to visit further as we sailed towards Passau.