We docked in Melk early one morning and I went up on deck. It was raining and ordinarily I would have been disappointed, I hate rain, but it had been so hot that, frankly, I just stood there and let it run down my face. Heaven!
When we’d boarded in Nuremberg we ran into a couple who were at the conclusion of their cruise, just waiting to get off: “If you see nothing else, you must see Melk Abbey!” they said.
So, after breakfast, we took our receivers and an umbrella and we boarded the bus, heading up to the palatial abbey that dominates the Melk skyline. This has been a Benedictine Monastery for almost a thousand years and although its library had been celebrated for a long time, it had been a Spartan residence for many centuries. Yet, Abbot Berthold Dietmayr in the early 1700’s launched a rebuilding project that created a Baroque palace, complete with a cathedral-like church. Don’t think ‘cold stone edifice;’ this complex is closer to Versailles. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed – so I had to buy the Guide Book.
|Ceiling on the Marble Hall|
After its renovation the Abbey was used as a Royal Palace with whole sections reserved for Empress Maria Theresa, the only female Hapsburg Ruler, and her husband Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor. There’s a grand marble hall, like a ballroom, and the ceiling depicts scenes from antiquity, with likenesses of the Hapsburgs serving as the heroes.
|The Melk Cross on Austrian Stamp|
|St Coloman’s Relics|
But Coloman isn’t the only Saint interred in the Abbey Church. Two decorated skeletons I took note of as we walked the aisles revealed their own story…
|Catacombe Saint in Melk Abbey Church|
|Yellow Cobbles in Path|
In most of Europe these rather grotesque relics have long since been reinterred but in Melk, they are still on display.
The rain had stopped when we left the Abbey so we walked down the hill and through the town back to the ship. The route wouldn’t be obvious but it’s marked – you simply follow the yellow brick route – some of the cobbles are coloured. We stopped at a café for a Kafe: Austria has a well-deserved reputation for its coffee shops and this place was no exception – I would have loved to stay longer but it was time to cast-off.