Patrons on our cruise were offered a choice of visiting a winery or a Benedictine abbey. We chose Melk Abbey, located on a hilltop overlooking the town of Melk on the Danube. It is still a practising monastery, with thirty-one monks currently in residence. They live and work in the cloisters, which are not accessible to visitors. Another part of the abbey is used as a co-educational school for 900 students, and is also off limits to the public.
We visited an exhibition in a museum at the abbey that told the stories behind the different eras on occupation, spanning over 900 years. It appears that the most influential era in Melk was the baroque period, as the baroque decorative style is evident on the facades of the building and in the interior of the magnificent cathedral, where much of the decoration is brightly gilded and ornate. The high ceilings are painted with frescoes of Biblical scenes. It is a spectacular sight, which unfortunately you cannot see due to a No Photos Indoors policy.
We walked slowly back to the ship through the tourist section of Melk, where once again cobbled streets, quaint building styles and narrow winding lanes were the norm. We were quite amused to discover a German word that contained the letter ‘f’ three times in succession – see photos above.
Back aboard the ship we were treated to music from an Austrian duo while we sampled red and white wines from the region we’ve been traveling through. It’s been a good day.