Melk Abbey (Stift Melk in German)

Melk Abbey


Location: Melk, Lower Austria Map

Constructed: 1702-36

Tel. +43 (0) 2752 555225


May-Sep: 9am-5:30pm (last admission 30 minutes before closing)
Apr, Oct: 9am-4:30pm (last admission 30 minutes before closing)
Nov-Mar: open with for reservations


Entrance Fee:

€7.70 adults,  €4.50 students

Guided tour: €9.50 adults, €6.30 students

Official site


Melk Abbey is Austrian Benedictine abbey located in the Lower Austria province of Autria. It stands on a cliff overlooking a town of Melk below as well as the mighty Danube river below. Ironically one of the most famous Catholic monasteries was initially intended a military fortification.


History of Melk Abbey


First military fortress on top of a rocky outcrop overlooking the Danube river below apparently appeared on this place during the late Roman period, when legions of the mighty Rome needed to control barbarian tribes across the river, natural boundary of the Roman Empire. During the medieval period this strategic location didn't loose its importance. King Leopold I turned Melk Castle into his own private residence in 976. From the safety of this strategic fortress he could control the area and feel protected behind thick walls.


King Leopold II, Margrave of Austria handed over his possession to Benedictine monks of Lambach Abbey in 1089. Around the same time the monastery became the residence of bishop Altmann who had to flee Passau after running into a conflict with pope. It is unclear whose idea was to transform old citadel into a religious center, but it is very probable that bishop Altmann had an important role in the establishment of Melk Abbey. On 21 March 1089 first Benedictine monks with their abbot Sigibold moved into the newly establshed monastery. The choice was simple given that it was the favorite burial ground for the dynaty of Babenberg who wanted to lay along Saint Coloman of Stockerau who was buried here on 13 October 1014.


Official documents and manuscripts from the time indicate that in the 11th century Melk Abbey already became famous for its reputable library that contained many important documents and works of literature. Additionally abbey's scriptorium (Latin word that literally means "a place for writing") became famous for its beautiful manuscripts that gained fame throughout Europe. It was part due to several prominent monks that once lived here. Among them was the early bohemian cleric and poet Heinrich von Melk once lived here. Some of the beautifully colorful manuscriptis from the time of abbot Walther (1224- 47) still preserved in the library of the Melk Abbey.


In 1122 Melk Abbey got important tax exemptions from the state. It was further transferred under the jurisdiction of the bishoproc of Passau and hence directly subordianted to the pepe. With lavish donations from private citizens and monarchs of Austria Melk Abbey enjoyed great respect and power in the region.


Original building was almost completely destroyed in the fire on August 14 1297. Many of the original works and documents were destroyed.  Most of them were lost forever. The troubles did not there. In the 16th century Melk Monastery was besieged by the Turkish forces.  Much of today appearance date back to the early 18th century then its abbot Berthold Dietmayr began a massive renovation project. Many famous artists were invited to pinch in including Joseph Munggenast, von Erlach, Jakob Prandtauer, Paul Troger and many others. Melk Abbey managed to survive several conflicts and houses one of the largest libraries in Europe with many medieval manuscripts (over 2000 copies). Currently Melk Abbey is open and part of the abbey houses a school. Addtionally the monastery contain the final resting place of Saint Coloman of Stockerau and remain of several members of the Houe of Babenberg, Austria's first dynasty of kings.