Saturday, May 26, 2007

Melk, Austria

After a hard day in the big city of Vienna, we joined the Friday afternoon exodus and headed west. About 50 miles along the River Danube is the little town of Melk. This had been recommended to us by various campers along the way and had the distinct benefit of having a campsite. The site was not too difficult to find and, after we parked up, we had a pleasant dinner right on the bank of the Danube in the restaurant connected to the campground. Melk, with a population a little over 5,000, is a popular tourist stop and many visitors arrive on day river boats from Vienna or from places as far afield as Amsterdam on lengthier vacations. The following morning, we shambled back along the road to check out Melk. What a surprise - exactly where we had turned off the highway to the campsite the previous evening was a HUGE building (on a hill of course) that "you couldn't possibly miss". Well, miss it we did. The massive Benedictine Stift Melk (Melk Abbey), originally a defensive castle built over an old Roman Fort, was given to the Benedictines in 1089 by Leopold II along with the church. As expected, after a few fires and similar disasters, the entire structure was rebuilt in Baroque style in the early 18th century. No surprise there. Notwithstanding, we set off to walk up though the town and then climb the alleys and steps to the Abbey.
This shot helps with the Abbey scale and, because plagiarism is
so much more expeditious than renting an airplane for a
morning, it is used with grateful acknowledgment to P. Martin

The Abbey tends to overshadow everything else in town

Couldn't even get lunch without falling over the darned thing

The town square is a pleasant mixture of architecture with
amenities similar to any town of similar size

There is an "everyday" church in Melk but it seems
to be largely ignored by tourist who
mesmerized by the "biggun" on the hill

The interior nothing special and the overall
aura smacks of hard times

Viewed from the apse end and there's that Abbey again!

One street in town, Rathausplatz (Town Hall Place), has
been kitsched up with cobblestones, boutiques and trendy
restaurants and all pedestrian visitors pass along it to
and from the Abbey

Along this street is the Koloman Fountain given to the
town by the Abbey. There is a festival each year to
celebrate Koloman Moser who was a leading graphics
artist of his day. Not a lot of people know that!

One of the alleys leading to the Abbey ascent

Approach to the Abbey

The Abbey dome from the gardens

Detail at rear of Abbey

The gatehouse entry

The outer courtyard

Detail of entry to inner courtyard

Fifty yards beyond the "restored" area of town reality
is alive and well. These drab apartment blocks are where
the real people live

Flood control of the Danube in this area of Austria does
not seem to well developed. As we left town we noticed
the little plaque on this arch

That would be quite depressing

Back at the campsite, right by the river, conditions
have been just as bleak

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