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Melk Abbey a highlight on the Danube

September 12, 2011 - 2:25am
Melk Abbey a highlight on the Danube
As one of the oldest countries in Europe, Austria certainly has its fair share of historical cities. Among them is Melk, which has played an important role in the region for more than 1,000 years and is a staple on any Danube cruise.

The Stift Melk, sometimes referred to as the Melk Abbey, is the unquestioned highlight of this gorgeous city. The abbey itself was founded in 1089, when the monastic school was housed in what is now the Melk Abbey's gymnasium.

An impressive building in its own right, the original abbey was eclipsed several centuries later when the now-famous Baroque-style abbey was completed in 1736. Situated on a rocky cliff overlooking the Danube below, the building has become an icon of the city.

There are a number of highlights inside the abbey, including amazing, historic artwork. The ceiling is adorned with frescoes painted by Johann Michael Rottmayr, including the The Triumph of the Monk and St. Bendict's triumphal ascent into Heaven. The elaborate paintings complement the ornate decoration found throughout the immense structure.