Wednesday was by far the best weather day this week. The skies were blue and we actually saw the sun almost all day. While it is nice to ride in such weather, it might be even nicer to have a layover/sightseeing day in this weather.
We planned this day off in order to visit the well-known Abbey at Melk.
(Note: This photo is from Tuesday when we rode into Melk.)
English tours are offered at 10:55 am (yes, there is a reason) and 2 pm. We actually arrived at the Abbey (uphill from our hotel–and pretty much everywhere) at about 9:30. We walked around part of the extensive gardens, took some photos, had some coffee, and explored an exhibition of work by the Abbey’s high school students focusing on St. Coloman before joining the tour.
St. Coloman was an Irish pilgrim, possibly a prince, who was mistaken for a spy and hanged. This year marks the 1000th year since his remains were transferred to the Abbey (two years after his death) and is cause for some great celebration in Melk. The students’ work focused on the idea of “otherness,” the ultimate cause of Coloman’s hanging. In addition to the student work, there were several specially-created modern art pieces commemorating the anniversary. This was consistent with the presence of contemporary art throughout the Abbey, a feature I really appreciated. Not only can the baroque elements be overwhelming, but the presence of a newer interpretation adds depth and perspective to the experience.
Modern views of some of the virtues of the Benedictines (prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance)
The tour visited the relatively-new Abbey museum (check out their web page for details), the Imperial wing (where Empress Maria Theresa stayed with her entourage of 250 when she visited), and an external walkway/viewpoint before proceeding to the library and church. As in many such sites, the tour guide had to keep the group moving, as the next group was right on our heels.
To be continued…