Melk Abby, Austria

Perhaps the grandest monastery in Austria, or central Europe is the magnificent Melk Abbey. The head Abbot, Berthold Dietmayr and the architects Jakob Prandtauer and Joseph Munggenast created this masterpiece from 1701 to 1736 upon the foundations of a much older medieval monastery.

The centerpiece of the Abby is the library, with the main hall holding 16,000 volumes alone. The library ceiling is covered by a magnificent fresco by Paul Troger. From the main library room a spiral staircase leads to 12 more library rooms not open to the public, which contain more than 100,000 volumes, some of which are extremely valuable. Italian writer Umberto Eco drew inspiration from the Abby for his novel “The Name of the Rose” in which a monastic library plays a central role.

The Abby’s beautiful gardens provide breathtaking views from the semi-circular exterior terrace out over the Wachau Valley.

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