In the Austrian state of Lower Austria you will find Melk Abbey, which is one of the best attractions in the country. A dominating Baroque convent, Melk Abbey commands respect. It is absolutely gigantic, and it rests on a rocky perch overlooking the Danube River in the town of Melk Austria. Just 55 miles west of Vienna, Melk Austria makes a great day trip when visiting the Austrian capital, and you can get here by train in just an hour. Rent a car instead, and you can get here even faster. For a scenic drive, take Route 3, which runs along the Danube River. It might take longer than if you hopped on Autobahn A1, but you will be handsomely rewarded with some great sightseeing.
The golden, red-roofed, Baroque Melk Monastery that so impresses visitors was built between the years 1702 and 1736. The architect was Jakob Prandtauer, who was a native Austrian son. This wasn't the first abbey (monastery or convent) to be located at this site, however, as the first one here was founded way back in 1089. In the twelfth century, a school was established, and the abbey began to earn recognition for its manuscript collection. By the fifteenth century, the abbey at Melk Austria was an integral part of the Melk Reform. This reform was intended to celebrate and cultivate monastic life, not only in Austria, but also in southern Germany.
As impressive as the exterior of this stunning Austria monastery is, it's interior is also worthy of praise. The Marmorsaal, which is a marble hall, is just one of the delights you'll find inside, and the frescoes on the church ceiling are fantastic. The whole church is fantastic, actually, boasting gold-accented altars and statues. The church is the most important room in the Melk Monastery, followed in importance by the almost as impressive library. It's really too spectacular and beautiful to put into words, and you'd hardly notice today that the church was damaged in a fire in 1947. The renovations have done the Melk Monastery church proud, and no doubt the Benedictine monks that still use this Austria abbey today are quite satisfied. Both monks and students can be seen using the Melk Austria Monastery, and it is open daily throughout the year.
Tours are offered at the Melk Abbey Austria Monastery, and they start every 15 or 20 minutes, so if you miss one, you can pick up another right away. These guided tours are offered between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m, and there are some English ones available. Generally, between November and mid-March, you can only visit the Melk Monastery on a guided tour. During these months, the tours are available at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Group tours can be arranged in advance. Melk Austria might not be the country's most prolific destination, but with the Melk Monastery to brag about, it's got plenty. This attraction is simply divine, literally and figuratively. If you are lucky during your visit, you will hear some beautiful Melk music ringing out from the church bells.