Melk Abbey

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Melk Abbey
Native name
German: Stift Melk
Stift melk 001.jpg
Melk Abbey
Location Austria
Coordinates 48°13′41″N 15°20′02″E / 48.22806°N 15.33389°E / 48.22806; 15.33389Coordinates: 48°13′41″N 15°20′02″E / 48.22806°N 15.33389°E / 48.22806; 15.33389
Area Europe
Architect Jakob Prandtauer
Architectural style(s) Baroque
Melk Abbey is located in Austria
Melk Abbey
Location of Melk Abbey in Austria

Melk Abbey (German: Stift Melk) is a Benedictine abbey in Austria, and among the world's most famous monastic sites. It is located above the town of Melk on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Danube river in Lower Austria, adjoining the Wachau valley.[1] The abbey contains the tomb of Saint Coloman of Stockerau and the remains of several members of the House of Babenberg, Austria's first ruling dynasty.[2]

History[edit]

The abbey was founded in 1089 when Leopold II, Margrave of Austria gave one of his castles to Benedictine monks from Lambach Abbey. A monastic school, the Stiftsgymnasium Melk, was founded in the 12th century, and the monastic library soon became renowned for its extensive manuscript collection. The monastery's scriptorium was also a major site for the production of manuscripts. In the 15th century the abbey became the centre of the Melk Reform movement which reinvigorated the monastic life of Austria and Southern Germany.[3]

Today's impressive Baroque abbey was built between 1702 and 1736 to designs by Jakob Prandtauer. Particularly noteworthy is the abbey church with frescos by Johann Michael Rottmayr and the impressive library with countless medieval manuscripts, including a famed collection of musical manuscripts and frescos by Paul Troger.

Due to its fame and academic stature, Melk managed to escape dissolution under Emperor Joseph II when many other Austrian abbeys were seized and dissolved between 1780 and 1790. The abbey managed to survive other threats to its existence during the Napoleonic Wars, and also in the period following the Nazi Anschluss that took control of Austria in 1938, when the school and a large part of the abbey were confiscated by the state.

The school was returned to the abbey after the Second World War and now caters for nearly 900 pupils of both sexes.

Since 1625 the abbey has been a member of the Austrian Congregation, now within the Benedictine Confederation.

In his well-known novel The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco named one of the protagonists "Adson von Melk" as a tribute to the abbey and its famous library.

Melk Abbey is also the metaphorical climax ("a peak in a mountain range of discovery") of Patrick Leigh Fermor's autobiographical account of his walking tour across pre-WW II Europe in "A Time of Gifts", which provides a lyrical, impressionistic description of the Abbey at that time. [4]

Euro commemorative coin[edit]

Melk Abbey was recently selected as the main motif of a very high value collectors' coin: the Austrian Melk Abbey commemorative coin, minted on April 18, 2007. The obverse shows a view up to the façade of the abbey church and its two side wings from a low level. The twin baroque towers and the great dome of the church behind them can be seen. In the lower right corner the coat-of-arms of the Abbey of Melk (the crossed keys of St. Peter) can be seen.

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Melk, Niederösterreich". Encyclopedia of Austria. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  2. ^ Ellegast, Dr. Burkhard (1998). Melk Abbey. Melk: Stift Melk. p. 51. ASIN B000N48KHS. 
  3. ^ Toke, L. (1911). "Abbey and Congregation of Melk". The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  4. ^ Fermor, Patrick Leigh (2005). A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople. New York, pp. 172–77.

External links[edit]