The Danube and Melk Abbey

While sitting on the upper deck of our longboat cruise ship as it sailed down the Danube River through the Wachau Valley of Austria, I had a real taste of what the countryside of Europe must have looked like many years ago. Castles in ruins, quaint medieval towns and terraced vineyards were seen along the way.

Water Valley Scene
Water Valley Scene

I actually saw so many unique towers like the one above that I made a collection of towers as I traveled down the Danube.

Departing our ship at Melk we walked the short distance into town and hiked up to the Abbey. We couldn’t help but be impressed with the  grandeur of the centuries-old buildings.

Courtyard of Melk Abbey
Courtyard of Melk Abbey


Melk Abbey is the highlight of the town. It is possibly the most famous abbey in Austria and sits on an outcrop which rises above the Danube.  In late afternoon sun, the building seems to glow.

Melk Abbey in afternoon
Melk Abbey in afternoon

As we entered the walls of the abbey we were face to face with young people who were leaving.  About 700 students attend school daily at the abbey which is considered a prestigious monastery school.

School Children Leaving the Abbey
School Children Leaving the Abbey


The views from the Abbey are sensational. It was built in 1702 and 1736 by architect Jakob Prandtauer, the abbey was originally a royal palace with ceremonial courts and grand halls.Melk Abbey-5

At some point in time the palace was presented to the Benedictine Monks, who turned it into a fortified abbey.

The highlight of the abbey is the Stiftskirche or Abbey Church. The Church has twin spires and high octagonal dome with and the church has many windows.  The interior is baroque with all the ornamentation that goes with that including magnificent frescoes by Johann Michael Rottmayr, and the library contains around 80,000 medieval manuscripts.

Stiftskirche or Abbey Church Interior
Stiftskirche or Abbey Church Interior

Everyday, during our cruise, we had a different town to explore.  And, surprisingly, the mix of fellow travelers that we encountered on the daily excursions was shuffled. It was never exactly the same.

Similarly, for the meals, the size of the tables was small (4 or 6 seater).  As you arrived in the dining room you could expect to sit with different people at each meal. It was easy to meet people.

There were a number of photographers like myself. It was fun to see what others would photograph. Sometimes we would compare photos or suggest what would be a good one.  And, of course, there were those that took selfies in front of everything. I marveled at that. Bob and I were not hugely successful at the selfies because we are tall and I am using a DSLR but we could occasionally get a photograph of ourselves taken by others.

I chose my lightest DSLR but it was still not light. Starting to think about a lighter camera than the Nikon D300s I carried on that trip. A nice mirrorless Fuji would be just the thing! But I digress…

We were able to walk from the ship to the Melk Abbey through the town with its cobblestone streets and wonderful little cafes. All of these European Cafes have the best coffee along with some delicious-looking cakes.

View from Melk Abbey the town of Melk
View from Melk Abbey the town of Melk 

Here are some more photographs of the Abbey and museum.



Looking forward to presenting my next blog, which will focus on the next town on our itinerary: Passau.


5 Replies to “The Danube and Melk Abbey”

  1. Phyllis – these photos would make a person long to float down a river into the European past!
    From your comments, I can feel how enjoyable it must have been for you!
    I was overwhelmed by the photo of the Abbey Church – so sharp in detail – left me drooling (not hard these days!)
    Great work!

  2. Phyllis,

    What a gorgeous village, and your photos really do it justice. I’m sure you had a great time and I appreciate you sharing your adventure with us. I look forward to reading your posts.


  3. Love the photos
    Great shot at the church, wonder how wide of an angle the lens is?
    Love your work and thanks for sharing

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